Chris Hicks has paid his dues and more. First, as lead guitarist and vocalist for Loose Change, a band that caught the ear of music mogul Alan Walden, who maintains even today that Hicks is the “best undiscovered artist of our time.” Then Hicks was hired to play alongside the one and only Hughie Thomasson in The Outlaws. Now, for the past ten years or so, he has served The Marshall Tucker Band as lead guitarist and vocalist. And we haven’t even mentioned the fact that Hicks is a world class songwriter. Many of his songs have appeared on the past three MTB records. Now he is back with his very own solo album, and fellow babies, it rocks.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of Chris Hicks. Like Warren Haynes with The Allman Brothers, he grew up to perform in bands with his heroes. Hicks is a man who grew up loving Toy Caldwell, and as if by fate, ended up in the lead guitar position in Toy’s old band. Sheer magic. Chris wails on the guitar in a style that evokes unobstructed visions of Toy Caldwell one minute and Duane Allman the next. His whiskey drenched vocals can sing a tender love ballad or a balls to the wall rocker with equal passion and fervor. On his new album, Hicks delivers a one two knockout punch that will make a believer out of even the listener who may have never heard his music before.
The album kicks off with “It All Comes Back Around,” one of many of the tunes here that Hicks has been playing out live for quite some time. His fans have heard many of these songs before, and we are all happy as a pig in slop to have them on CD, to be played over and over again.
Truth be told, there’s not a single weak link here. Every song is good, from “Chokin’ Kind” (a kiss off to one of “those” kind of women-the kind that just rip out the heart of a man) to the funky white boy title track, one of several from the album that have been showcased during MTB concerts over the past year.
“The Tie That Binds” is a beautiful melody, as is “Share Your Love with Me.” The boy can spin a love song like nobody’s business.
“You Can’t Hide” is another funky blues rocker, leading into even more good stuff. Songs like “Can the World Still Turn Tomorrow?”, “Too Cool for School” and “In Time.” All good.
“Georgia Moon” closes out the album, and I must say, it is one of my favorite songs by anyone, anywhere, anytime. The tune was written by legendary Capricorn Records producer Paul Hornsby, who produced this album as well. It’s an amazing song, taylor made for Chris Hicks. A beautiful acoustic ballad. A gem.
Dog Eat Dog is one of the finest Southern Rock albums to land in my office in quite some time. Chris Hicks is a young man with an old soul. He is a perfect torch bearer for the legends, from Toy and Tommy Caldwell to Duane Allman to Hughie Thomasson. Do yourself a solid. Buy this album.
-Michael Buffalo Smith