SARA HICKMAN / Two Kinds Of Laughter
It’s been a while since Sara Hickman released a collection of new songs. After 1994’s Necessary Angels, she became a mom and broke ties with her label. But the Houston-bred Hickman never put her career on hold. She has continued to play before adoring audiences in Texas, writing new songs and honing her craft. That work shows on her sparkling new release, Two Kinds of Laughter; once again, she lays down one quirky, endearing melody after another with her trademark enthusiasm and winning sense of humor. Guitarist Adrian Belew—known for his work with David Bowie, King Crimson and Talking Heads, as well as his own solo material—acts as producer, and more. In essence, he’s the backup band, playing guitar, guitar synthesizer, bass and drums and adding remarkable accompaniment to a diverse group of song styles and rhythms. In turn, Hickman gives what may be her best recorded vocal performance ever. "E Cosi Desio Me Mena" ("And So Desire Carries Me Along" in Italian) and "Comets Over Costa Rica" have a decidedly tropical flavor and stand out for their sense of stylistic reach. Elsewhere among the engaging folk/pop and sweet ballads fans expect from Hickman, the funky rhythms, striking social commentary and the singer’s slyly effective delivery are as out-there as they’ve ever been. Yet it all works to near perfection. Admittedly, Two Kinds of Laughter’s buoyant eclectic streak is not for everyone. But for those with a taste for the whimsical and the offbeat, Hickman’s latest is bound to induce smiles. (Three Stars) — Jim Caligiuri
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