Back with a new lineup led by founding member David Sickmen, The Hackensaw Boys return with five-song EP A Fireproof House of Sunshine. This roots band of four offers songs that sizzle and warm the soul from the opening riffs. Produced by Rob Evans (Dave Matthews Band) and recorded over four days last December at Haunted Hollow Studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, A Fireproof House of Sunshine is just that — a collection of original music that feels like the sun is shining on your shoulders throughout, keeping any darkness that lurks in your life at bay for a wee while. Joining Sickmen in this new incarnation are percussionist Beau Dodson, bassist Chris Stevens, and Caleb Powers on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and vocals.
This raise-a-little-hell roots EP, which clocks in at a mere 15 minutes and 30 seconds, opens with the rollicking, country-punk of “Late Night Kitchen.” The song is guided by rich instrumentation and lasting lyrics, including Powers’ soulful fiddle. “Pass Unloving Eyes,” a beautiful ballad, follows. This tale of unrequited love, regrets, and a “fall from grace” asks profound questions open to interpretation such “who will win / the candle or the wind?” and observes “There are reasons are lives can seem hollow.” All of these lines lead up to the chorus, with its positive mantra: “Get on past the dying and get on with the living.” The remaining songs are just as powerful and demand repeated listens.
As the title suggests — and the music attests — Sickmen and this latest incarnation of the collective he started more than 20 years ago not only endures and survives, but also thrives. Hackensaw Boys seem immune to the ups and downs of the music industry; these five songs are a fresh reminder of the band’s legacy and determination and shows they are here for the long run.