More People Really Should Know About: Joe Hicks

Used by permission of the artist

Delving through ticket stubs can be a useful way to remember some of those acts you’ve come across down the years, deserving of much wider recognition than a place in a shoe box. No search through the archives was required for this feature, however, Joe Hicks being a very contemporary artist whose eponymous 2020 album stamps him out as being a true original with an array of gifts – songwriting, guitar playing and singing – added to which he has the distinction of being not from the wilds of Canada or the Texas panhandle but from Newbury in Berkshire.

Brought up by musically-discerning parents, Hicks heard the classical guitar aged 9 in a school assembly and fell in love with the instrument, honing his skills through teenage bands and the National Youth Guitar Ensemble before heading off to the Royal Academy of Music and even spending a year at Berklee in Boston, alma mater of Quincy Jones, Diana Krall and Susan Tedeschi among dozens of Grammy winners. One of these is John Mayer, whose ‘Where The Light Is’ live DVD had a big influence, showing through Hicks’ soulful vocal and beautiful electric guitar tone on ‘Maybe When It’s Over’ from the 2023 album ‘The Best I Could Do At The Time’. A master too, of the acoustic guitar, his fine playing can be heard on the live solo performance of ‘One More Step’.

Like many a gifted guitarist, Hicks spent time as a session musician but was moving towards becoming a solo artist. This entailed working hard on his voice as well as writing his own music, all the while adding to his all-round strengths through touring as a guitarist with fellow Berklee graduate Sarah Walk and Oxford’s Adam Barnes. As he worked on his voice, he found that he had a distinctive falsetto, a vocal technique that gives his singing a much wider range and the capability to capture soul, rock and country in a truly individual cocktail of sound.

Touring the UK in 2023 Hicks won many admirers with the fine musicianship on display, his band also including producer Sam Winfield and engineer Tom Millar. This was followed early in 2024 by a tour of Europe alongside Walk and Barnes, with Hicks no longer a sideman but playing as part of a triple header. Towards the end of the tour Hicks learned that his father had passed away unexpectedly. The two were exceptionally close, his father being his biggest fan. Experiencing an emotional roller-coaster over several months, Hicks is channelling his loss in the most natural way, through his writing. His first two albums showed exceptional emotional depth and maturity which his next collection seems certain to emulate and go beyond. Recording will start later this year with release and a supporting promotional tour in 2025. Don’t miss it.

About Chas Lacey 23 Articles
My musical journey has taken me from Big Pink to southern California. Life in the fast lane now has a sensible 20mph limit which leaves more time for listening to new music and catching live shows.
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