By Allyson Bills
Sometimes in music, opposites attract. This is the case with NYC-based country-folk duo Dicey Hollow. Singer Petter Ericson Stakee of Alberta Cross and Jamie Biden (Vice President Joe Biden’s nephew), a NYC DJ, have always wanted to work together. However, they didn’t receive this opportunity until they collaborated to score for a now unfinished film. Despite this setback, Stakke and Biden continued their budding partnership to form Dicey Hollow, and to record their self-titled debut EP. The six-song EP was recorded at Mt. Tremper in Upstate New York with renowned mixers Nico Aglietti (Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes), Claudius Mittendorfer (Temples, Big Data, Interpol, Johnny Marr) and Kyle Pass. The result is a smooth Americana sound if Neil Young and Calexico created a musical baby.
The EP begins with “Silver Sand,” a slower song that makes you ponder on long road trips with lyrics such as “Machine in disguise // What’s your alibi? // I’ve been thinking about it." The song is pretty consistent tempo-wise with a slower vibe. It's not really the ideal track to begin with a record, but a solid effort nonetheless.
“Rose of Maine,” the second track off the EP and the lead single, is actually Dicey Hollow’s oldest-written song, and it was the last to be formally recorded for the EP. This is the country-folk tune that has “single” written all over it. The beginning of the song flows very well with twangy guitars and violins in the background. Then the build-up in the 1:48 mark of the song gives it new life with harmonizing chorus, “She told herself that she didn’t need me anyhow.” But wait, “Rose of Maine” isn’t done yet because at the 3:39 mark, it goes into quietness with just the chorus and violin to make it the ideal single. Don’t be surprised if you hear it out and about. Because of it’s variety, how it engages the listener, “Rose of Maine” should have been switched with “Silver Sand” as being the first track off the EP.
The last four tracks off the EP are the darkest and most indicative of Dicey Hollow’s potential as a band. “Howl at the Moon” is a very Neil Young-equse tune that has strong guitar breakdown at the 2:30 minutes. You can definitely tell that Ericson Stakee is still is trying to “Howl at the Moon” until the very end singing “corrupt me, it’s too late.” "North Texas” begins with pianos (a very similar beginning as “Silver and Sand”), and then changes at the 3:36th minute with an epic build-up of both the pianos and harmonies. I like how Dicey Hollow is making their songs unpredictable changing things up a bit within their songs.
“Oh, Lonely Muse” reminds me of being in a stormy desert with Ericson Stakee’s lyrics of “Spirit will you set me free // Lover will you call for me?” Dicey Hollow saves the best for last with the final track off the EP, “Mizaru.” This track begins with heavy drumming and strumming guitars, and then it evolves into to this epic trio of the guitars, violins and drums in union with the chorus “Heaven to myself // welcome to my soul.” What a way to end an album.
The chemistry between Ericson Stakee and Biden is so spot-on, on the EP that you can never tell that they have very distinct musical backgrounds. It’s like this genre came naturally to them as musicians. The songs on the EP have enough variety to keep them fresh, and both not too folk and not too country, which appeal to people who have different musical tastes. If you are looking for a solid country-folk album, then you can look no further by listening to Dicey Hollow’s self-titled debut EP.