Chris Hicks

Dog Eat Dog World

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Having played with the Marshall Tucker Band since 1998, guitarist Chris Hicks has little time to focus on a solo career. Dog Eat Dog World marks his second album in ten years, and while it's apparent that being a frontman isn't his primary focus, Hicks' sophomore effort shows him to be a fairly competent singer/songwriter in his own right. Long drawn-out solos and extensive guitar noodling could sink this sort of record, but Hicks often downplays the instrument, focusing instead on tight nuggets of Southern rock that aren't exclusively aimed at guitar fanatics. For someone whose voice is often relegated to backup duty in the Marshall Tucker Band, Hicks also flaunts a surprisingly confident set of pipes, and he swaggers his way through Southern-styled tales of troubled worlds and glowing moons with few hitches. Harmonicas, organs, and the occasional horn section find their way into the mix, and the five-piece band truly hits its stride when Hicks unleashes short, heated blasts from his guitar, soloing with his bandmates rather than forcing them to work around him. While Dog Eat Dog World grows increasingly familiar as the tracks progress, "Too Cool for School" -- which combines the excitement of early Kenny Wayne Shepherd with a grown-up sensibility -- is worth sticking around for. Here, Hicks switches between the harmonica and the guitar, pitting the instruments against each other in a war of solos before bringing it all home with his best fretwork on the album. Nothing new, perhaps, but nothing to scoff at, either.

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