Itâ€™s been fifteen years since Hadacol founder Greg Wickham dropped a new album. He hadnâ€™t intended to leave the music industry, but a break blossomed into marriage and children, and though he continued to make music, he stayed away from the business. But it was the family that led him towards hiatus that also led him back to the studio, as he sought to complement his pre-parenthood work with songs created as artifacts for his children. And with that motivation, he began writing the sort of contemplative and mortal songs one couldnâ€™t feel or even imagine as a 20-something singleton. Think of it as parental advice from a rock â€˜nâ€™ roll father whose adolescent excesses taught him not to carelessly blunder into a banal midlife.
On board with Wickham is his brother and Hadacol co-founder, Fred, along with the groupâ€™s former bassist Richard Burgess, who combine with Wickhamâ€™s voice to produce a familiar sound. Itâ€™s not Hadacol 2.0, but something grown from the same roots in a different time and emotional place. The blue country rock â€œHow Much Iâ€™ve Hurtâ€ would have fit easily into Hadacolâ€™s repertoire, and youâ€™ll hear the waltz-time of the bandâ€™s â€œPoorer Than Deadâ€ in the opening â€œAngel of Mercy (Song for Sophie).â€ The latter, however, replaces the formerâ€™s downbeat surrender with an expectant tone of home, and stretches out the backing with organ and horns.
Co-producing with Kristie Stremel, Wickhamâ€™s indulges his love of roots music with the back porch strings of â€œMe Oh Myâ€ and â€œI Will Comfort You,â€ and turns downtempo for the somber â€œSmall Roles.â€ He confronts his baggage and contemplates how the remaining roads will shape his legacy, drawing experience from the former to inform the choices of the latter. He places a quiet duet of contemplation, â€œIf I Left This World,â€ back to back with a brash moment of realization, â€œWake Me Up,â€ turning philosophical questions into a call to action. The album closes with the previously recorded â€œElsieâ€™s Lullaby,â€ a fatherâ€™s catalog of wisdom, wishes and advice, capping a strong return to the stage, and lovely future memories for his children. [Â©2017 Hyperbolium]