Sara Hickman,
(Sleeveless, 2006)

Sara Hickman has been releasing albums since 1989. The majority of her work is adult-oriented, but between 1999 and 2003, Sara released three kids' albums.

In 2006, she went back to more "mature themes" with her release of Motherlode. This 2-disc offering is broken up into two distinct moods. The first CD is more depressing in theme, whereas the second is more hopeful. As Sara states in the liner notes, "Choose your mood and choose your disc."

The first track to make a big impact on me was Sara's cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World." I've heard covers of this song a few times in the last two-plus decades. But not like this. Sara really makes this song her own. I did not think anyone could touch the original ... until now. I highly recommend a stop over on her website (listed below) to check out the video. This track truly embodies the angst some kids experience in childhood. Very sad. Very touching.

Immediately following is a song called "Twenty Years to Life," about a lady who killed her abusive husband. The folksy tune belies the fact that this individual is in a terrible situation and did what she had to do to survive. "I've had 11 busted ribs, and scars, and sprains that you cannot see / A dentist put a bridge in where my front teeth used to be ... They asked me why I stayed with him / But they couldn't sympathize / They never felt the straw that broke my back a thousand times." Yet the melody evokes a pleasant sunny afternoon sipping tea while watching the scenery. Maybe prison is a better place than an abusive home?

On the happier disc, I can hear my favorite new song (well, new to me), "Are We Ever Gonna Have Sex Again?" For any parents out there who have gone from "triple-X-rated" to "domesticated," you will relate to this country ditty. If you're not chuckling at "Whatever happened to Babe and Stud? / Too much KFC and Bud." you don't have a sense of humor. If you turn red when Sara belts out "Screw 'making love' / It's way too ambitious / Let's get down on the rug..." then this track might be a little too risque for your taste. I find the whole track hilarious and feel for all of us who relate to it.

"Little Bird of Anger" is a bluegrass tune that makes me think of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? even though it isn't on that soundtrack. I do not know the copyright date on this song, but it sounds like something from the 1930s to me. I imagine it sounds old due to the banjo and fiddle. This track would also make a good children's song. Telling anger, sorrow and sadness to fly away while inviting laughter is a good life practice.

Sara is joined by several guest musicians on Motherlode, including Shawn Colvin, Kelly Willis, Ruthie Foster, Adrian Belew and Jimmy La Fave, among others. Most of the music is folk-rock based, but she occasionally jumps genres. How often can you find a CD with both rap and bluegrass tracks? Yet, it works. Sara is a very talented singer. She has a fantastic voice. When you can get two CDs for barely more than the price of one at, you can't lose with Motherlode.

by Wil Owen
2 June 2007

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