Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley’s Living In A Song

By Brian Rock

Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley sing an ode to Nashville’s storied musical past on their fourth album, Living In A Song. Taking a break from their high-octane bluegrass and Piedmont Blues stylings, the duo performs a more relaxed and intimate playlist focusing on themes of heart and soul.

The title track leads off the album with Trey’s acoustic guitar followed by his resonant tenor voice singing, “I’ve been on this highway for about eight hours now. If I’m going to make Ohio, better lay the hammer down.” Capturing the melancholy and monotony of traveling between gigs, Trey eloquently expresses the pains that musicians endure to share their talents. Continuing, he sings, “sometimes the pain pours like rain out of these six strings.” Rob’s somber dobro enhances the mood as the pair are joined by piano, drums and subdued electric guitar to build to an emotional crescendo. As the pair assess their migratory lifestyle, Trey confesses, “All I thought I ever wanted; I’m still looking for.”

Although the road life of a successful musician can be painful, it’s still not as bad as a musician who can’t find success. “Backstreets of Broadway,” paints the picture of one such poor soul. The beautiful interplay of Trey’s acoustic guitar and Rob’s resonator guitar, paired with the sweet harmonizing of their voices somehow creates a musical triumph about a musical failure. “I’ve Given All That I Can Take,” gives the George Jones treatment to a failed relationship. “Is The World Still Turning,” sheds another tear in the beer as Rob’s resonator guitar takes on a greater role in setting the mood. Like Skeeter Davis’ hit, “End of the World,” the pair wonder how the world can keep going when they’ve lost the only thing that made the world worthwhile.  Recalling happier times, the duo waxes nostalgic for their hometown in, “Deeper Than A Dirt Road.” Warm fiddle strains help capture the classic Country sound of George Strait as they extoll the simple pleasures of clear streams, grassy fields, and dirt roads. Continuing in that same vein on “Just Because,” the duo sings, “Just because tears may fall, we’re stronger just because this house was built on faith and on love.” ”I Thought I Saw A Carpenter,” is a Country Gospel song that focuses on the faith part of that equation. Their Piedmont Blues-tinged cover of “I’m Working On A Building,” reinforces the need for faith to make it through the hard times.

On the album’s second cover song, the duo goes full throttle on their take of Doc Watson’s “Way Downtown.” Unable to stay in low gear through a full album, the pair finally unleash their frenetic fretboard fireworks. “Louisiana Woman,” keeps the tempo rolling with a lively, Cajun two step rhythm. “Moonshine Run,” matches the pace with the addition of electric guitar and Hammond organ. An Outlaw Country rocker about the perils of moonshining, the pair warn, “don’t let them catch you hauling shine if you know what’s best; or Sunday morning finds you in jail with your name on a prayer request.” Foreboding, fast and furious, the song captures the adrenaline rush of racing just ahead of the law.

After eight years, three albums, and multiple awards, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley don’t need to prove anything to anyone. However, they took the risk of leaving their wheelhouse of next level fingerpicking showmanship and focused on the craft of musical storytelling. Like riding a bike, sometimes going slow is harder than going full speed. There’s no momentum to help keep you moving forward if your balance falters. But like everything else they attempt, they not only master this skill, they make it look effortless; proving once again that Ickes and Hensley are the best duo in Americana.  |  fb  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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