can’t help but compare Texas new country act Susan Hickman
to Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Lambert and
Underwood both have made remarkable and speedy inroads
courtesy of fans and radio, and they have done it with a
style and pleasing appeal that’s charged and fresh. But if
we look, just off the main stage, and listen to what’s
waiting in the wings, we’re sure to see Susan Hickman. Those
very same qualities that have catapulted Lambert and
Underwood are keenly on show with Hickman’s debut.
This young and
married songbird has pulled together an energetic and
hit-filled album. With songs penned by Brett James, Bobby
Pinson, Gregg Allman, and Doug DeForest ( serving overtime
duty as producer and band member), the 10 tracks showcase a
talent whose time is close.
microphone shyness here; Hickman tackles belters and ballads
with equal doses of confidence. The voice is clear,
rock-tinged and country inspired.
The album bounds
from the chute with the opening track, “Wrapped Up In Me”.
Fiddle rich and drum pounded, the track powers along with
its toe-tappin’ appeal of romance that’s no further than a
glance away. “RED” is a plaintive cry of anger, couched in
betrayal. “Hell Still Ain’t Frozen Over” -- “It’s
not your typical cryin’ in your beer country tune,“
– is a power ballad with an easy hook, wrapped in a voice
that’s both expressive and strong.
Humor comes in the
phone call to a former beau in “Sunday Paper”. Riddled with
sarcasm and indifference, the tune could serve as a
rollicking salvo to dumped boyfriends in need of finding
someone who cares. The advice is clear: put your pain in the
Sunday paper, write it in the sky, hang it on a billboard or
tell it to your dog walker…there’s no interest here anymore.
The radio single,
“Whipping Post” penned by Greg Allman, rounds out the album.
Hickman’s take is bluesy, edged with a dynamic vocal that
paints the picture of hurt, loss and betrayal with
While this is a
knockout first-up effort, filled with possible radio fare,
the best track, to my sensitive ears at least, is the cut
that probably won’t get the spins, the emotion moving “One
Of Those Who Make It Up There”. Hat tips and kudos to Doug
DeForest for writing the song; it’s one that shines brightly
on the overlooked good deeds of good people. Moody and
reflective, Hickman delivers her message of hope in a pure
vocal that can’t help but inspire.
Sure, Susan Hickman
has arrived with first glance similarities to Lambert and
Underwood. But rather than have that serve as a frustration,
it’s a compliment. Susan Hickman is no wannabee clone. She’s
striving and, with this album, she’s arriving. Looks, voice
and product – here at CSO we think she has it all.
The best is yet to
The album is out