Fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and washboard percussion unite to form a driving collection on the Hackensaw Boys' latest, Charismo, which was released on April 15th via Free Dirt Records.
From the opening track, “C’mon Baby Don’t Be Against Me,” it’s evident the Boys are in fine form bringing their gritty, often raucous and always real roots music to the masses. Led by founding member, guitarist and songwriter David Sickmen, the quintet also includes Ferd Moyse (fiddle), Jimmy Stelling (banjo), Thomas Oliver (mandolin/bass) and Brian Gorby (washboard percussion), who tell stories straight out of Appalachia that would be equally at home at a honky-tonk in the big city, a campfire in the woods, or a back porch in the burbs. Filled with tales of everyday struggle, triumph, love, and unhappiness, Charismo contains a bluegrass meets old time meets punk spirit, on which the Boys exude a genuine resilience.
There’s also an earnestness that flows through each word whether they’re singing about someone’s desire to win at all costs (“Content Not Seeking Thrills (Ain’t You)”), pondering a relationship (“Happy For Us In The Down” on which he sings, “what I want is to see you smile, to never see you frown/and to be sad with you in the up and happy for us in the down.”) or being in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist (“Flora”). On other tracks, the traveling melody of “The Sweet” perfectly conveys the message of the tune, “I’m searching for a home a place I can be/ where I’ll exist…I ain’t found it yet remains unseen I’m searching for a home a place I can be.” while there’s a hint of Ireland in “Ol’ Nick.” Charismo is rounded out with “Worlds Upside Down” and a true crowd sing along about being true to yourself even though someone may want you to change, “You Want Me To Change.”
The Hackensaw Boys have been making music in one form or another for the better part of seventeen years and if the energetic spirit of Charismo is any indication, they have many more years ahead of them...which is lucky for us.