Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer
The very first time I heard Hussy Hicks live, I literally stopped what I was doing and gasped. I was working at the annual Wallapalooza Festival on the Gold Coast as part of the crew, my best friend was also there photographing the event. She was on one side of the room and I was on the other when Hussy Hicks made their way onto the stage. From the very first minute they opened their mouths to sing and started playing, my friend and I locked eyes across the room, it was a look that didn’t need words to be understood; we were both just blown away. The soaring vocals and seemingly effortless flowing guitar filled that room like no other band managed to on that day/night. Hussy Hicks caught my attention in a huge way and I’ll never forget it.
Hussy Hicks are a Folk/Roots duo from the East Coast of Australia; Leesa Gentz (vocals, guitar) and Julz Parker (guitar, vocals). The pair have an undeniable, incredibly strong connection and a fusion of their musical souls that creates a certain alchemy when they combine forces to create and perform music together. On their Facebook page they list their interests as: ‘travel, music and fun’ – and their extensive live shows and touring around the country and overseas shows that to be true. Hussy Hicks really do seemingly live and breathe their music consistently and passionately. This is their true calling.
The hard working and dedicated musical pair are back with their eighth album release this Friday, July 24 via their label, Funk Fauna. ‘Gather Up The People’ gifts listeners eleven soulful tracks sure to delight everyone who tunes in. When a band or artist puts so much passion into a song or an album, it’s impossible to not feel that and have it sit with you; resonate with you, in one way or another. Even if this is not your usual genre or style of music, the heart put into this album is easily felt the moment you begin to listen.
The album opens with the title track, Gather Up The People which was just released as a single and premiered via The Music this week. A song incredibly, though not purposely, relevant to current times. The song is about ‘togetherness’ and the belief that we really are all in this together, that we are one: “the things that we share are greater than the things that keep us divided”. At a time when our world has been turned on its head – there is simply no better time to unite and understand that we are, indeed, in need of joining forces; more love, less hate, more understanding, less arguing. This song sheds a positive light on these thoughts, beliefs and feelings. It’s empowering and inspiring. Listening to this on my morning walks after dropping my little ones off to school gives me a boost to start the day right, to focus on the good and fight any negative or sad feelings or thoughts. “We just need to love more, we just need to give more…”
Hypothetic Needles is next. This one is more rock-heavy, even the opening echo of the guitar gives it a much different vibe to the first track. This feels more aggressive and somewhat angry, fueled by fear. Julz says that this song is about a fear of hypodermic needles that could be found on Sydney’s northern beaches when she was growing up “…but focuses on the intangible fears that cripple us. From playing out our worst-case-scenarios in our heads, finding fears and reasons to become defensive, or developing an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality, it’s all damaging and just creates more fear.”
Hid Myself begins softly. Gentle strumming on the guitar and a deep, strong yet delicate vocal. This one feels like a diary entry. An opening of the heart and feelings, personal ones that perhaps were not intended to be shared, but have been poured into a song as a way of understanding oneself; connecting with and sitting with those feelings. And the funny thing is, I thought this before I read Leesa’s comments on this track. “… Lyrically, this track is one that I am particularly attached to, as it is one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written and almost feels like a coming of age song.”
Mountain Peak is one of the singles already released from the album and is so soulful and funky, it reminds me of some early Chaka Khan. In fact while I am talking about other musicians, bands and artists I can hear through this album, there are more I would like to mention. I hear influences, inspirations and vibes as I listen through the album, such as Lisa Stansfield, The Waifs, Laura Marling, The Staves and more. But in every influence I hear, I also hear Hussy Hicks; their own sound, because of course, everyone is themselves and whilst you can be influenced or even unintentionally sound like someone else, you are you and… what’s that quote? ‘No one is you and that is your power’ – and no one is Hussy Hicks except Leesa and Julz.
The Edge. This one features the sounds of chains hitting the ground. Throughout the album, on some tracks, including this one, Leesa and Julz are joined by various musicians, artists and friends who add to the album and enhance it with various instruments and on this occasion, even chains. This track is emotionally charged and relates to the ups and downs of living in a world that never stops, in particular in creative industries. Which I can relate to, on such a very deep level. The music world literally never sleeps and sometimes, nor do I. “The Edge is about the roller coaster of emotions and mental turmoil that come with living in such a fast paced world. Particularly the arts industry- so full of highs where you can’t possibly imagine a failure that will send you crashing back into total darkness and uncertainty.” – Julz.
Get Ready was released last year as the first single from the album and it’s an absolute power surge of a song. Its steady beat and powerful lyrics give off an energy that is unrelenting and strong in its delivery and message. The stand out lyrics: “I’m ready to put fear aside and open my heart up to the world”. With their own choir of friends on backing vocals to give more depth and a louder sound to the voice of the song. “This song is about taking an actively positive approach to inspire equality and getting rid of old ideas that don’t serve us anymore.”
Change Is Coming, commences with what sounds like synths over the guitar. But they fade out as the focus comes back around to Leesa’s divine voice; it’s smoky, but clear, honey-like, rich and flowing. I wonder if she just always sings instead of speaks? It seems singing is something that comes so naturally to her. No wonder it’s such an absolute joy to listen to.
Hummingbird’s Song, written while travelling across Alaska. I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been there, the vastness of such a beautiful place in the world. The track opens with the sound of frogs and insects chanting behind the guitars and vocals, adding a natural, organic sound; an earthy vibe. This song is a stand out for me on this album.
Take A Look Over. Very Jazzy/Bluesy feel to this track. The husky vocal complimenting that vibe. The slow beat, the keys, the guitars, the cacophony of sounds all rolled into a song that seems just full of raw emotion. There is so much depth here. Everything I Wanted And More, a sweetly delicate love song. It’s a delicate caress in amongst an album full of very powerful songs, but this one, has its own power. There’s a sadness in this one too. Love is such a journey of emotions and this song really encapsulates some of those emotions.
Wilsons River Blues. Wind chimes and distorted sounds open this track. With a very Swampy/ Roots sound here. I feel like this song was written with a slightly different approach to the other tracks, this one is something else, it closes the album on another level. I absolutely love this track. It makes me think of the ridiculously talented Justin Johnson.
And on that note, the album is complete. The listener’s journey ends. I feel inspired, energized and moved. This album moves me. I have such a deep, ingrained love for music. Across many genres. But lately, my heart is really going back to its ‘Roots’ – I am loving Folk, Blues, Roots and Alternative Country music. There is just so much in it that sings to my heart and soul. Hussy Hicks have delivered another stunning album in ‘Gather Up The People’ and I highly recommend you tune in. But first, tune out to your troubles, tune out to the worries of the world. Pour a glass of wine (or a drink of your choice) and tune in to Hussy Hicks. Let the music heal and uplift you. It’s what it’s for, after all.
Hussy Hicks ‘Gather Up The People’ Album Launch Tour Show Dates
1 Aug – Tintenbar Hall, Ballina
2 Aug – Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Gold Coast (SOLD OUT)
13 Aug – Stag & Hunter, Newcastle
14 Aug – Stag & Hunter, Newcastle
15 Aug – Manly Fig, Sydney
16 August – The Vanguard, Sydney
22 Aug – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast
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With thanks to Kitty Kitty Bang Bang