Resonator-guitar whiz Ickes and singer/guitarist Hensley blend traditional and outside elements, sometimes on bare-bones acoustic. On others, they create an amalgam of bluegrass and the classic country of the ’80s and ’90s enhanced by rhythm sections, amplified instruments and B3 organ. Their harmonies are tight, the songs solid.
Vocally, Hensley, inspired by Randy Travis and Alan Jackson, adds grit to each number; the ballad “Living in a Song” being a prime example. Whether the arrangement is full or austere, their vocal and instrumental powers remain a constant on covers and original tunes. Diving headfirst into Doc Watson’s exuberant “Way Downtown,” Ickes and Hensley each pop off dazzling solos, joined by fiddler Stuart Duncan. They’re no less powerful on the Ickes-Hensley gospel original “I Thought I Saw a Carpenter.”
With a full band on the buoyant original Cajun romper “Louisiana Woman,” Ickes’ picking tears things up beneath the vocals. They pour energy into the rocking “Moonshine Run,” Ickes adding amplified lap steel and Hensley playing acoustic and electric. The gospel favorite “I’m Working on a Building,” blends effective vocals with subtle, intense picking. Vocally and instrumentally, “quality” is the watchword.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.