In May 2010 Sara Hickman was named “Official State Musician of Texas.” And while she may not be quite as well-known as the last musician to hold that title, Willie Nelson, this tribute will go a long way toward raising her profile.
Hickman has released 17 albums since she began her career in 1988, but The Best Of Times stands apart as the first anthology of other artists performing her songs. And what a list of performers it is. Of course, Willie Nelson leads off, passing the baton with his rendition of “Simply,” complete with a guitar solo that is as near perfect as guitar solos get. Other guitar-centric highlights include a razor’s edge solo by After Math on “Larger Than Life,” Shawn Colvin’s delicate fingerpicking on “Time Will Tell,” and Charlie Sexton’s chimey guitar work on Trish Murphy’s version of the title song. Also onboard are Ruthie Foster, Edie Brickell, and Robert Earl Keen.
The album project was conceived as a benefit for one of Hickman’s favorite charitable organizations, the Theater Action Project. In the liner notes, she talks about working with T.A.P. in schools, witnessing “how they help children fall in love, not only with the arts, but with themselves.”
A well-constructed anthology like this works in two ways. It attracts new fans to a particular artist’s work while leading the fans of that artist to other like-minded artists. The Best Of Times succeeds on both counts with great songs mated with fine performances by other Texas musicians. It’s Lone Star heaven. — SS
From Vintage Guitar Magazine, http://www.vintageguitar.com/