Shane Hicks – the man behind Dusty Miles – is a founding member of Brisbane blues-rock band The Blackwater Fever. His new venture is more in the singer-songwriter vein, edging into country music, and it’s the album Fireroad Vol. 1. There is very little other information to be found about Miles apart from the fact that he wrote, performed, mixed and recorded Fireroad Vol. 1 as well as doing the cover artwork. And what that does is force a reviewer to accept the music as the only possible biography there is – but even then Miles is not a songwriter in the confessional vein. Fireroad Vol. 1 is a collection of stories that take a while to get to know, and the reason you’ll want to spend the time to get to know them is because the music lodges into your synapses. Snippets of these songs pop into the mind at random times and each one calls you back to the album.
Fireroad Vol. 1 seems to contain a song cycle, describing a man in flight and also in pursuit, one who has regrets but who isn’t letting them stop him moving forwards, and moving on. The music is evocative of space and distance, across landscape and time. There’s sadness in it, especially in ‘Lead Me Home’, and there’s also insouciance, as in ‘Laying in the Sun’.
All of that is an effort to describe what can be indescribable – to rationally explain an emotional and visceral response to music, which is what a lot of writing about music seeks to do. The truth of this album is that it’s catchy without having obvious musical hooks; it’s memorable because its purpose not narrowly defined, and therefore not easy to figure out. It will make you want to laze around and listen to it, although it’s also a very good accompaniment to a long walk – and any music that is a great companion is serving that bigger purpose of art: to help us navigate life, to stimulate our senses and our brains, to reward our curiosity, and to, often, simply be great entertainment. Fireroad Vol. 1 does all that and more.
Listen to Fireroad Vol. 1 on: