Paul Hicks
Gig Seeker Pro

Paul Hicks

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | SELF

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | SELF
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


Have we heard music like this before? I certainly have, but while listening I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Why haven’t I heard of this guy before? He could certainly be selling millions of records if he were living in the US. Smart, catchy, well-crafted lyrics with a mature, yet rootsy sound. Smooth, atmospheric guitar from the school of Daniel Lanois and Buddy Miller also adds bite to great songs. An album with a pure heart. Don’t shuffle it or listen to a couple of tracks. Play the whole thing from beginning to end and then go and see him perform, buy the CD …Heck! Buy two and give one to a good friend! - Readings newsletter, September 2007


Rating: 4/5
“I was searching for something”, Paul Hicks’ second solo album starts, “something more than gold and diamond rings, that could help to ease the pain this living brings”. Food for the Journey is an ambitious album. Hicks shuns the country clichés, to deliver a wonderfully atmospheric country record – it’s Daniel Lanois and Joe Henry meets Australian country. An album of genuine depth, finely crafted, Hicks ponders life’s big questions with gentle poetry and a beautiful vocal. See Give Me Love First, On A Clear Day and Making My Way Back Home. Absolutely world class. - Music Australia Guide, June 2007


First up, Melbourne singer/songwriter PAUL HICKS with his second album Food for the Journey (Sound Vault). The country stylings of Hicks’ first album Kettle of Fish have been expanded on but not abandoned. Instead of fiddle and steel guitar there are trumpets, dense guitar sounds and yes, strings! Comparisons made earlier to DYLAN, SPRINGSTEEN and Australia’s PAUL KELLY were heady stuff for a young artist but a drift to a folk meets rock stance is entirely a natural one. Paul and his cohorts (taken from a wide circle of rock, folk and country musicians) have fashioned an album of some lyrical introspection, with a predilection to personal statement that as a bi-product pointing to more universal concerns. That is a tricky route that the artist navigates with aplomb. The album also sounds good. Producer/percussionist MARK STANLEY has a handle on big sounds. This is really a new beginning for Paul, almost a first album and songs such as Give Me Love First, Carpenter’s Son and Buffalo River Road may help to propel him to the upper echelon of Aussie personal songwriters (a mighty small and select bunch) – only time will tell but in the meantime, as his life-affirming song Carnival has it, enjoy the ride. - Capital News Magazine, May 2007


Paul Hicks’ Food for the Journey (on Soundvault Records) is one of the great albums of 2007. It’s Daniel Lanois and Joe Henry meets Australian country. With gentle poetry, Paul ponders life’s big issues – love, sex, death and religion. The album follows Paul’s 2005 debut, Kettle Of Fish. This is, appropriately, a different kettle of fish, with producer Mark Stanley (ex-The Mary Janes) helping Paul create a wonderfully atmospheric record. Was Food For the Journey the “difficult second album”? “Yes and no, Paul smiles. “I felt that the songs were on the whole stronger than the first, so I always felt confident in them. However, as it’s also a very personal album, I felt a lot more emotionally drained by the time we’d made it – something I wasn’t anticipating. Mark also pushed me way out of my comfort zone, which was good, but pretty challenging at times. On top of all that, there was a bit of tension and conflict in the making of the album, which made it personally hard. Apart from all that, it was a breeze!” So what was Paul listening to as he made the album? “A lot of Damien Rice and other contemporary Irish music that Mark turned me on to – acts like The Frames and Mundy. I was also listening to a bit of Wilco, who I love.” Nick Cave started reading the Bible at the age of 20, saying he found an endless source of inspiration in the “brutal prose” of the Old Testament. Food For the Journey addresses life’s big questions in a more subtle manner, with Paul heavily influenced by Catholic writer Thomas Merton. “I became very interested in some of the great Christian mystics in my late 20’s,” Paul explains, “writers like St Augustine and St John of The Cross. When I discovered Merton, I felt like I had found a bit of a soulmate. He’s just an incredibly beautiful and illuminating writer – not for everyone I’m sure, but he really spoke to me. The Dalai Lama, after meeting him in the 1960’s, described him as the most holy man he’s ever met. I think that religion has had a pretty big influence on the album – there are plenty of clear references to biblical stories in quite a few of the songs. It actually feels like a pretty spiritual album to me, especially given the atmospheric feel to the production.” Paul is a true country artist – he actually lives in the country. “I’m currently living in Wangaratta, but I’ve got a feeling that I may be moving on again in the not too distant future.” How has living in the country influenced Paul’s writing?” The bulk of this album and probably what I consider the strongest material was written after I moved back to the country. The geographical settings for some of the songs has certainly shifted to a rural setting, which is only natural I guess. More importantly though, they were written during a time when I was living by myself on a 50-acre property. I was working in a vineyard from dawn until mid-afternoon, coming home and working the property until dusk and then writing at night. I think the isolation, peace and open spaces gave me much more time for thinking and daydreaming. I think that geographical location can be very important to a writer. Your surroundings are bound to influence you, just as much as the people around you, your stage in life and so on.” Paul Hicks is launching Food For the Journey at the Northcote Social Club on Thursday with special guest Dave Steel. - Inpress Magazine, 13th June 2007


Years of relative isolation living in the country away from the hub of the music industry proved to be advantageous for roots-country singer and former frontman of The Haybalers, Paul Hicks.
His second solo album, Food for the Journey, features easily some of his best songwriting to date and if this record is anything to go by. His burgeoning career must surely be ready to hit the big time. Surprisingly, given the quality and thoughtfulness of the tracks, the album wasn’t written during happy times.
Holed up in rural Victoria as a result of austere circumstance, Paul had the rare chance to be retrospective, both about the recent tumultuous events that turned his life upside down and the strength of his omnipresent spiritual belief. At the wrap-up of his debut release, Kettle of Fish, he found himself absconded on his family’s 50-acre farm sifting through a myriad of emotions – grief, sadness, loss – and trying to make sense of them via his songs.
“I’d gone from living in Melbourne to moving to my parents’ farm after my father died,” Paul says. “I was going to help my mother out, and then she died seven months later to the day that my dad died. That whole period’s probably influenced it [songwriting] in a large respect. I was left on this farm trying to run it, I was doing a bit of work in a vineyard nearby to bring a bit of cash in and doing music as well. It was busy, but at the same time I had a lot of time to myself. There was a lot of reflection going on and I think that comes out a lot in the songs.”
Sometimes raw and intensely personal experiences can prove to be an unending source of inspiration for songwriting, quite often leaving an indelible impact on all who come across them. Paul found the sum of his sentiments impacted the record in a way he hadn’t anticipated, and also provided him some form of emotional closure.
He wrote the track ‘Buffalo River Road’ immediately after his dad’s death and found it just “fell into place”, making it an apt tribute to his father by depicting Paul’s memories of growing up at the farm.
“It’s all good to talk about theoretically putting yourself on the line as a writer,” he says, “but when you really dig down and get pretty raw about what you think, and the things that are on your mind, it is pretty confronting. It was a good thing to do. I still think it’s the way to go, and to be as honest as possible, which is what I try to do with my writing. I think you can only be better if you do that.”
Part of the “digging deep” was Paul’s frank look at his own spirituality. From the overtly religious and quite heart wrenching song ‘Carpenter’s Son’, to the Biblically-tinged ‘Making My Way Back Home’, reminiscent of the parable of the prodigal son, he has managed to convey his spiritual fascination into intricately weaved stories packed tightly with emotion.
But don’t get the wrong idea, Paul’s approach to the songs wasn’t about preaching, faith conversion or spouting religious propaganda, instead, he just found himself inspired – like other songwriters before him – by the magnitude of relevant stories in the bible that could be portrayed in song.
With the emotive state of his songwriting, the recording of Food for the Journey was always going to be a challenge and with personal conflicts affecting his business life, the beginning of the process was fraught with struggles. Yet, selecting producer Mark Stanley proved a fortuitous turning point as his musical approach and understanding was exactly on par with Paul’s hopes for the release.
Looking back Paul now sees the difficult times as an added bonus to the record.
“I think sometimes those elements can make for a better record,” he says. “You don’t always realise it at the time, but looking back I have no doubt that some of those things actually made for a better record. And Mark was quite demanding in the producing role, he really pushed me out of my comfort zone.”
With Food for the Journey, Paul wanted to take a step away from the direction of his debut CD and strip back the use of fiddles and the pedal steel induced country vibe, instead leaning more towards a tougher guitar-based sound. The aim was to bring together folk, rock and roots in a style that showcased his vocals and songwriting, while subtly combining these with Mark’s Irish music influences.
After recording wrapped up, Paul was surprised to find it took him a long time to be able to pick up the record and listen to it. His reaction was just to have “nothing to do with it” and even as far up as the mastering stages, he was still having problems with the track order.
Now that he’s had a bit of distance from it, he can see the quality of the album and he is proud of it, but this doesn’t stop him analysing the intricacies that only he can see as the songwriter. It is very much a songwriter’s album where the emphasis is on the compositions. - Rhythms Magazine, August 2007


Discography

Kettle of Fish (LP) - 2005
Food for the Journey (LP) - 2007

Photos

Bio

After stints as frontman and songwriter for Melbourne roots music bands The Haybalers and Broken Spoke, Paul Hicks emerged in 2005 with a solo album, Kettle of Fish, which led critics to draw comparisons with Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Australia's Paul Kelly.

“… a fine new album of thoughtful, all-original material that comes on like a more rural Paul Kelly …” - Keith Glass, Capital News

"...a great storyteller... produces a mix of styles that evoke images as wide as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen” - Rick Jenner, Capital News

The country stylings of Kettle of Fish led Melbourne music journalist Jeff Jenkins’ to proclaim in Rhythms Magazine “Paul Hicks should be Australia’s next country superstar”. Jenkins also included Kettle of Fish amongst his top albums for 2005 alongside Bernard Fanning’s Tea and Sympathy and Ben Lee’s Awake is the New Sleep.

The death of his parents proved to be the catalyst in Hicks relocating to rural Victoria for an extended sojourn of some three years, during which time he penned the songs for his exciting follow-up album Food for the Journey, which is already getting plenty of attention from the critics.

“One of the great albums of 2007” - Jeff Jenkins, Inpress Magazine

“…songs such as Give me love first, Carpenter’s Son and Buffalo River Road may help to propel him to the upper echelon of Aussie personal songwriters” - Keith Glass, Capital News

“If this record is anything to go by, his burgeoning career must surely be ready to hit the big time” – Eva Roberts, Rhythms Magazine

“Why haven’t I heard of this guy before? He could certainly be selling millions of records if he were living in the US” – Lou Fulco, Readings Newsletter

Recorded and produced in Melbourne and Foster by former Mary Janes drummer Mark Stanley, Food for the Journey is less country than its predecessor and more lyrically reflective. Arranged strings take over from the fiddle and melodic guitar replaces the pedal steel. The album also features the talents of Stanley on drums/percussion, John Edgar (Sara Storer band) on bass, John Bedggood (Bernard Fanning band) on keys and introduces the guitar wizardry of Robbie Melville.

In demand as a live performer, Hicks has appeared at venues and Festivals throughout Australia and Europe.