Sicard Hollow – Brightest of Days
This effort came a little late but it’s worth noting since they at least brave some tricky waters. The performances throughout are excellent by each featured musician. The songs themselves lyrically are somewhat Spam when they should be salami — compared to their exceptional playing.
The melodies do the heavy lifting & the words – they’re just not engaging, or challenging & they display a generous amount of cliches. But a tune like “Where I’m At,” – once that gets going instrumentally the Richard Greene Seatrain-like fiddle bursts like a melon & the mandolin ignites in a Ricky Skaggs fire. This is done quite nicely.
Some cuts while invigorating, with spirited vocals, are hampered by the malnourished lyrics. The band is solidly reminiscent of progressive-folk rock groups like Spirit of the West, Oyster Band, Big Shoulders & Great Big Sea. But those artists have material that is far more cutting-edge & original. Sicard Hollow has music – but it takes their spark a little time to catch.
The song “Escape the Unknown,” does lift off more confidently & the arrangement is a brush fire of impeccable playing. The 4-piece, Nashville-based unit is rooted in bluegrass. Brightest of Days (released Nov. 11–Independent) does have enough prowess to warrant a close listen.
Produced by John Mailander this sophomore CD pushes boundaries & I admire their mixing of genres to gain innovation. Musically they achieve this. Lyrically, they need a sharper pencil & imagination. While they mention famous bands as influences the hint of those bands is not evident. Doesn’t matter. These musicians have enough ingenuity & enthusiasm to maintain interest.
“Metamorphic Prophecy” while a little heavy-handed cruises into an instrumental coda that has wonderful fiddle-mandolin interplay & the performance at all times — impeccable. Far better lyrics take shape on “Forecast of Life.” Here, the words have the quality of the music. “…you can’t change the weather, but you can dance in the rain.” Simple, but expressive. Surrounded by steamy fiddles & mandolin with a bottom-feeding bass that’s the glue. This is excellent.
They need to focus on the words – everything else is highly polished & accessible. Very listenable. Words must be approached like practicing an instrument. They need to write every day & sharpen phrases & messages. Many believe lyrics are secondary – but they can bring a great band down to mediocrity.
The 43-minute, 8-track features Alex King (guitar/vocals), Will Herrin (mandolin/vocals), Matthew Rennick (fiddle/harmony vocals) & Parrish Gabriel (bass/harmony vocals).
Highlights: “Where I’m At,” “Escape The Unknown,” “Metamorphic Prophecy,” “Bound to Die,” & “Forecast of Life.”
Color image courtesy of Sicard Hollow. CD @ https://www.sicardhollow.comh/music/brightest-of-days