Sara Hickman has garnered recognition as a captivating singer/songwriter, vocalist and musician, with artists such as Shawn Colvin, the Flatlanders, Robert Earl Keen, Willie Nelson and many others covering her songs. On her Kirtland Records debut release Shine, Hickman delivers another memorable collection of 10 songs that will take the listener on an intense journey destined to evoke a broad spectrum of emotions.
As Rolling Stone puts it, “Tuneful, clever and carefully observed, Sara Hickman’s material has all the strengths expected of a contemporary Texas songwriter, plus one more – whimsy.” Sensitive and fearless, Shine is another testament to Hickman’s diverse and emotional songwriting capabilities that appeal to a wide range of audiences. Fun, upbeat tracks such as “Tasty Sweet” and “My Cocky Friend” transition to clever observations on today’s society with “Selfish Freak” and “Trouble With Boxes,” giving way to the spiritual, insightful “Rapture” and “You Are Not Alone” before coming full circle with the celebratory title track.
Even more so than with previous albums, Hickman says she took some extra chances in creating Shine, and feels they paid off. “Before, I’ve always had an entire concept – a plan – for a recording in mind, and then written the songs to fit into that ideology. However, with Shine, I just had fun. I wanted to take risks and just go with the flow, starting with simple poems and visions on scraps of paper.”
A change in geography played a role, as well. After recording in Austin, Nashville and New York, Hickman decided to make her way to Los Angeles, isolating herself temporarily from family and friends and embracing the difference in L.A.’s energy.
Hickman’s fragmented artistic inspirations were brought to life with the guidance of musician, producer and fellow songwriter, Jim Jacobsen. He has worked with the Eels and Parthenon Huxley, and his music has been featured in Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, as well as countless TV shows and commercials. Shine was also artfully mastered by Dave McNair (David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Maroon 5, Bruce Springsteen).
Working alone with Jacobsen in the studio, Hickman knew the change in approach and location could provide the tinder for collaborative sparks to fly. “Making music is such a weird job because who knows where it comes from?” she says. “There’s nothing, then … Bam! A song exists. And if it connects with other people, that weirdness blends into blissful camaraderie. Or it pisses people off. But I guess that’s what art/music is supposed to do – cause a reaction.”
Since she started performing at the age of seven, Hickman has been embraced by both followers and critics. The Associated Press proclaims, “Seek out her albums and club shows for her melodic sense, excellent guitar playing, rich voice and mix of sunny optimism with heartache.” Hickman’s home state of Texas loves her too, naming her the 2010-2011 “Official State Musician of Texas,” joining luminaries such as Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett.
A guest performer on at least 25 albums by other recording artists, Hickman has toured with Billy Bragg, Dan Fogelberg and Nanci Griffith, and has opened for other artists including the Decemberists, John Hiatt and Lucinda Williams. She has also appeared in and sung on national ad campaigns for Walmart, Popeye’s, Daisy Sour Cream, Southwest Airlines, Fannie Mae and numerous others. And the journey is far from over.