Some things you know are just meant to be—but even when you do, it’s nice to get some outside affirmation. So, while Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley were sure that their musical partnership was the right move at the right time, it was still welcome news when their debut Compass Records project, Before The Sun Goes Down, earned a nomination for the Best Bluegrass Album GRAMMY. And with the release of their new project, The Country Blues on July 8, 2016, the pair built on the first one’s strengths to take their unique musical conversation to an even higher level. Hensley, who has made the transition from hot-shot guitar phenom to well-rounded instrumental and vocal powerhouse look easy, and Ickes, whose award-winning resonator guitar work not only helped to power famed bluegrass ensemble Blue Highway for two decades, appears on hundreds of bluegrass and country albums.
Check out the powerful Sonny Boy Williamson blues shouter, One Way Out, or the mixed regret and determination of Won’t Give Up My Train, memorably recorded years ago by Merle Haggard, or the “grassy dexterity of their original, Everywhere I Go.” Need more? How about the insouciant funk of Never Can Pray Enough, imported from the Wood Brothers, or the southern rock of Charlie Daniels on Willie Jones? Then there’s the jazzy tour de force instrumental, Biscuits And Gravy, written by Ickes as a kind of tribute to pedal steel master Buddy Emmons and so much more; there’s even a nod to the Grateful Dead in Friend Of The Devil, a dazzling staple of the duo’s live shows.
After all, when something’s meant to be, the best thing to do is to get out of the way and let it go.