Review: Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley – Before The Sun Goes Down

Rob Ickes fresh from the Three Bells CD and duo tours with stellar guitarist/singer Jim Hurst has produced and toured with another astro guitarist/singer, Trey Hensley. Blossoming from the ranks of singer/songwriter/musicians Trey has arrived! Great voice, solid country tones and super fast on the guitar, Trey has established himself as someone to keep track of in today’s musical ranks.

We know about Rob Ickes; International Bluegrass Music Association’s 15-time Dobro Player of Year! With Blue Highway for 20 years! Well here is what Trey has been doing:

“He began playing guitar and singing in his native Jonesborough, Tennessee when he was 10. At 11 he was invited by Marty Stuart to play the Grand Ole Opry and was thrilled when they were joined from the wings by Earl Scruggs with whom he played several times thereafter. Marty remains a fan and a booster. Trey has also in his young life already played with Johnny and June Carter Cash, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, The Oak Ridge Boys and Janie Fricke. He’s appeared on bills with Sara Evans,Charlie Daniels, Peter Frampton, Randy Owen, Steve Wariner and Marty Stuart and has appeared before President George W. Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush and Vice President Cheney.”

Rob produced this CD and wanted a CD done live with everyone playing in the studio at once. And much of these tracks were recorded live with minimal post production in a few days in the studio.

“…his (Rob’s) favorite albums by the pioneers of the music, the ones that made him want to make music in the first place, were made this way. The spontaneity and sheer joy of creation among a small group of master musicians is palpable in listening to the completed product.”

Rob’s dobro sounded “fatter” on Before The Sun Goes Down and Rob replies,

“Nothing different, these are the same mikes I used on the last BH (Blue Highway) CD, The Game. Someone else mentioned the warmth of the dobro tone on this CD, so there must be something going on! (smiley face inserted) we did record this album live, all in one room. So maybe there was “bleed” onto the other microphones that warms up the tones.”

Rob Ickes adds his old time dobro licks to Trey Hensley’s vintage country sound creating a nice combination. They cover a lot of Merle Haggard in this CD: “I’d Rather Be Gone,” “Workin’ Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today” and “When My Last Song Is Sung” garnering praise from Merle.

“I’m sure I don’t make a true ‘critic’ since I’m already such a fan, but the new album from Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley is a wonderful piece of work. And my songwriting side is truly overwhelmed.”

Where Jerry Douglas and The Earls Of Leicester took the musical road often traveled by Flatt and Scruggs, Rob and Trey take Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe’s “Little Cabin Home On The Hill” up onto the Interstate with some slick pickin’ and Trey’s solid country twang.

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley Before The Sun Goes Down
“Little Cabin Home”

Playing and singing on the album include some top people. “Aubrey Haynie or Andy Leftwich on fiddle, the ubiquitous (and mighty fine) Nashville acoustic bassist Mike Bub, and drummer John Gardner, who is rightfully lauded for his sensitivity to the needs of country music in the studio and who has toured with the likes of Don Williams, the Dixie Chicks, and The Dead Reckoners, among others. He provides impeccable rhythm throughout. Vocal harmonies or instrumental sweetening are added on one song or another by Jon Randall, Susanne Cox, Dan Tyminski, Shawn Lane, and Ron Block.”

On Hal Bynum/Dave Kirby’s song, made famous by Waylon Jennings, “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang” Trey plays his electric guitar using some of Waylon’s licks. This is smooth and updated compared to Waylon’s sparse version.

Rob nails it on Buddy Emmons’ “Raisin’ The Dickins” playing a Beanstock Lap Steel, made in Israel by Ori Beanstock, in a performance that rivals a Buddy Emmons pedal steel version. Getting a lap steel to sound like a pedal steel is a nice feat. This is one of the few lap steel gems that can be found on a Rob Ickes CD. He has played lap steel for one song on the Blue Highway album Sounds Of Home. He tunes his six string lap steel the same as his dobro – GBDGBD.

“Raisin’ The Dickins”

Everything on Before The Sun Goes Down is infinitely listenable but one of the fun tunes is the Stevie Ray Vaughan cover “Pride And Joy” with some of the most inventive bluesy licks from Rob and Trey.

“Pride & Joy”

For some extra goodies go to their website for some high definition videos of Rob and Trey and a bonus “Friend Of The Devil” cut. You can also find their tour dates here.

Compass Records

Doug Mathewson

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