Bozeman guitarist and songwriter Jason Wickens has his first CD out, an eponymous collection of original music that mines American roots genres: country, rock, blues and folk among them. You may recognize Wickens as the producer and host of “Live from the Divide” on public radio. The show features Americana artists, many who influenced the artist’s songwriting on his own album.
Musicians joining this venture are Bob Morrissey and Ryan Engleman, lead and rhythm guitars; Gabriel Pearson, drums; Grammy-nominated producer Wes Sharon, bass; Hank Early, steel guitar; and Kate Dinsmore, harmony vocals.
Wickens celebrates the vast prairies of the Treasure State in “Hi Line.” In a burly baritone he sings about getting back home to ground himself. Dinsmore accompanies him on the chorus, and liquid electric guitar and pedal steel spice up the arrangement.
In the shuffly “I Know You Don’t,” Wickens is hurt by his woman, who lies about where she’s been; it boasts a catchy accompaniment, with the singer’s voice breathy on the vowels.
“Be Just Fine,” co-written with Kalyn Beasley, has country-folk nuances, and “Traveling in My Mind” takes off with a cool finger-picked intro. Dinsmore joins Wickens to sing harmony, and she matches the inflections of his voice perfectly.
“Knob Hill,” with its biting guitar riffs, finds young fellas drinking beer with a colorful old guy. “Fordyce Lane” is a rockabilly dancer with wailin’ guitar that’s bound to get dancers on their feet.
The twangy and rockin’ “Get to Work” has a “Polk Salad Annie” feel; Wickens chastises clueless kids today for being Internet addicts, with no time to accomplish anything. He admonishes them to “put your hands deep down in that dirt, shut your mouth, and get to work.” Ha!
Wickens is an adept singer and writer, and these songs would definitely be fun to dance to.
– Mariss McTucker