GO & DO
Johnny Hickman CD Launch
When: 7-10 p.m. Sunday, June 24.
Where: Avogadro's Number, 605 S. Mason, Fort Collins.
Info: Visit avogadros.com.
With the wise sass of a midlife crisis, Loveland-based musician Johnny Hickman wrote his heart out for his second solo album, "Tilting," releasing July 3.
When he wasn't touring with Cracker, his band of 20 years, he snuck into Loveland's Backbone Studio to lay down a compilation of eclectic tracks over the last two years.
From politics to dreams and broken relationships, Hickman dug into nearly every corner of life and then wove those themes into an Americana-soul-Beatles-pop instrumentation.
"With the political climate lately and the unrest and people on one side or the other, the discontent of the country was the inspiration for the album," Hickman said.
The album title "Tilting" references literary hero Don Quixote's perceived fight with the evil giant windmills taking over his countryside.
"I can identity with Don Quixote because we get so much information in the media that you start to doubt all of it after awhile," Hickman said. "All of it was starting to wear on me. You can't help but feel what is going on."
Political rage is not the only thread of the album.
"The songs on the album are about everything, but for the most part it is a very personal album," Hickman said. "I am going through my middle years now. I am at the center of life and all it that entails. There is a midlife crisis theme going on in the album. A lot of it is light and some of it is deeper. I have passed the middle point of life and now I am wondering where I go next. It is a lot different than writing a song when I was 25. There is a lot more to draw from ... getting married and having kids, having people I love die. It is a very honest."
Producer and musician Jason Larson helped shape the sound of the album. Their creative mish-mash of ideas drove the feel of each song.
"I helped musically write some parts and I arranged here and there," Larson said. "I also produced the vocals, basically just making it the best it can be. I also mixed it and mastered it from the ground floor up."
As far as what audiences will take away from the new album, Larson considers himself a musical purist.
"I think there is a little something for everyone on this record," Larson said. "There are a couple of political songs, but the whole record is not like that. It is eclectic and there is some rocking stuff and some mellow stuff. I think that is a good quest. You do what you do and then let everyone else decide what they will think of it. When it is done, you just want to let it go."
To launch the new project, Hickman and Larson will play a live show at Avogadro's Number in Fort Collins at 7-10 p.m. Sunday, June 24. Larson's band The Piggies will open, followed by Larson accompanying Hickman for a few songs and then the bands combining to bring the new album songs to life. "Tilting" will be available for purchase at the show.
Hickman will also be touring with "The Last Summer on Earth" tour for the 2012 summer season, featuring the Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Denver-based Big Head Todd and the Monsters and, of course, Cracker.