Hackensaw Boys: A Fireproof House of Sunshine
“Get on past the dying and get on with the living,” David Sickman urges on “Pass Unloving Eyes,” the second song on Hackensaw Boys’ terrific new EP A Fireproof House of Sunshine . Granted, a five-song set may not seem like a testament to their longevity, but with the recent possibility of a band breakup looming in the wake of fiddler Ferd Moyse and percussionist Brian Gorby’s announced departures in 2018, the new music represents a rekindling of sorts—one that’s saved the group from an ignominious end. The rousing revelry that’s characterized the band’s approach from the beginning remains intact, especially when it’s transmitted through sheer spontaneity. Songs come on quickly and fade just as fast, although the well-formed melodies provide a celebratory sound that takes hold from the get-go. That’s particularly true given the easy amble and sway of “Late Night Kitchen” (which finds Sickman declaring, “I’m quite comfortable with fear”) and the effortlessly unassuming “Let’s Take Us a Night Ride,” an ideal example of the band’s trademark good ‘ol boy persona. They’ve always been adept at combining their stringband motif with a casual upended attitude but, here, that down-home stance is underscored by newfound confidence and determination. Those elements factor into the hillbilly happenstance of “Factory Blues” and the concluding rockabilly rave-up of “You Act Like My Friend.” It isn’t surprising that, 20 years on, the Hackensaw Boys still revel in their roots with a resilient sound that equates to the actual essence of authentic Americana. Strictly speaking, it’s not exactly revelatory, but it’s credible and compelling regardless.