• Release
      July 3, 2012


    It’s been 20 years since the release of Cracker’s self-titled album, but despite the band’s longevity, multiple gold records, worldwide tours, accolades for their nine studio albums and ever-growing fanbase, the band’s two creative fountainheads – Johnny Hickman & David Lowery – aren’t entertaining any nostalgic trips down memory lane this year with career spanning best-of collections or reissues.

    Instead, before the band regroups in the studio for their next Cracker effort in 2013, Hickman will be releasing his long-awaited sophomore solo album, Tilting, on July 3rd through his own label imprint Campstove Records.

    Hickman has long been known for both his guitar prowess and deft songwriting skills, with many songs leaning heavily towards the Americana/alt-country side of the fence – both in Cracker and on his 2005 solo debut, Palmhenge, which received positive accolades from the likes of revered music critic Robert Christgau, No Depression, AllMusic, Village Voice and many others. But on Tilting his musical boundaries are broader than ever before. While there are still traces of Americana present (“Measure Of A Man,” “Destiny Misspent,” “Whittled Down” and the bluesy “Resurrection Train”), there are also strains of smoky Dust Bowl-era jazz (“Papa Johnny’s Arms”) and gutsy rockers (“Takin’ Me Back” and “Another Road,” the latter which also incorporates a sweet and sublime refrain throughout). Perhaps most surprising, however, is the heavy presence of some incredibly hook-laden pop. Not only are some of these tracks reminiscent of Lennon & McCartney in their prime (“Dream Along With Me,” the satirical poke at national hubris of “Not Enough” and “Sick Cynthia Thing,” the latter which also surges with an uplifting mid-’70s glam swagger), but even the earthy folk of “Drunkard’s Epiphany” is elevated from a state of melancholy into something much more hopeful with its sunny harmonies and keen pop sensibilities.

    As Hickman explains, “Personally, all my favorite records and bands have been those that don’t flatline into one tiny sub-genre (Beatles, Kinks, Radiohead, Petty, Neil Young…). When I write, I just do it and don’t worry about it. As David [Lowery] and I always say, the only real rule in music is ‘don’t suck.'”

    The album’s title Tilting is tied to one of Hickman’s favorite countries, Spain, and it refers to Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote. “I sometimes feel like the impassioned madman with his lance trying to slay the windmill monsters,” Johnny reveals. “I think a lot of people do in these troubled times. The idea of battling these mighty, unbeatable foes both real and imagined is disturbing yet darkly amusing to me.”

    “The songs on Tilting are definitely more personal, more autobiographical than on either Palmhenge or Cracker records. I didn’t set out to do that but it’s just where I am in life I suppose. I didn’t steer cautiously around any of my feelings or experiences, good or bad. It’s as honest as hell, I can tell you that. Lyrically, there’s a little mid-life crisis catharsis going on here, not that that’s a bad thing. That and just being pissed off and reveling in it. I also love collaborating, which I do with David as well as my long time friend Chris LeRoy. Two of the twelve songs onTilting were written by or with Chris, though the majority of these songs are directly from my head and heart.”

    “Musically, my young friend and ace producer Jason Larson and I bonded a lot over how amazing The Beatles’ mid-period stuff is, even though he wasn’t even born yet when those albums came out. That came through almost subconsciously in the songs. The two of us played most of the instruments and sang most of the backing vocals on Tilting. I would get behind the board while he played drums, then we’d switch while I sang, played bass or guitar. I wrote a few of these songs on piano instead of guitar, but soon fired myself as piano player because Jason plays it much better than I can. At times we would call up our very talented musician friends to come in and play too, but mostly it was the two man band – laughing and running back and forth until we dropped at 3 AM. Then we’d get together the next morning, listen and see what we had. A kind of crazy way to make a record, but it worked.”

    Johnny Hickman’s new solo album Tilting will be available in CD and Digital formats on July 3rd.


    01  Measure of a Man
    02  Destiny Misspent
    03  Not Enough
    04  Dream Along With Me
    05  Sick Cynthia Thing
    06  Whittled Down
    07  Our Little Movie
    08  Papa Johnny’s Arms
    09  Takin’ Me Back
    10  Resurrection Train
    11  Drunkard’s Epiphany
    12  Another Road

    Johnny will be performing various solo shows in 2012 in support of Tilting (to be announced soon), and will be hitting the road with Cracker for a high-profile summer tour as part of Barenaked Ladies’ “Last Summer on Earth” tour, also featuring Blues Traveler and Big Head Todd & The Monsters. For tour dates go to: http://www.crackersoul.com/fr_home.cfm




    Tony Bonyata
    Pavement PR
    p: 262.903.7775
    e: bonyata@wi.rr.com

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    • "Johnny Hickman's second solo album, Tilting, flows without pretense. The Americana stuff is there with the Western blowing wind of "Measure of a Man" and "Resurrection Train," but the highlights are the way the hooks roll off the line." - Rob O'Connor / RELIX
    • "A solid second solo trip from longtime Cracker man. Hickman is a fine if unheralded singer/songwriter, with a mile-wide working class streak. Tilting is a thoughtful roots/rock blend of the poetic and the philosophical, the funny and the forthright. " - Luke Torn / UNCUT
    • "A thoughtful songwriter and terrific guitar player who just tells it like it is, word by word, note by note." - Mark Stevens / TELLURIDE INSIDE & OUT
    • "From politics to dreams and broken relationships, Hickman has dug into nearly every corner of life and then wove those themes into an Americana-soul-Beatles-pop instrumentation on his latest solo album Tilting." - Rhema Zlaten / REPORTER-HERALD
    • “On Tilting Johnny Hickman once again steps into the spotlight and delivers an album that highlights his reputation as a bad ass guitar player and a damn fine songwriter. He meanders in and out of multiple genres and then pulls it all together so none of the songs sound out of place. While some lead guitar players can work wonders within a collaborative environment few have been able to step out on their own and produce good music, Hickman is one of those few.” – Chris Martin / ATLANTA EXAMINER
    • “An album you’ll want to check out.” – KEXP / SEATTLE
    • "Tilting is Johnny Hickman's second solo sojourn, a trip that sees the veteran songsmith/guitarist/singer weaving in and out of a wide variety of styles without ever forgetting where his roots lie. If you find yourself thinking that this disc harkens back to the genre jumping employed so successfully by the mid-period Beatles, you're not mistaken. Mind you, there's more than enough Cracker soul to keep his core constituency smiling (such as the album's excellent opening track, "Measure of a Man"), but there's also a smoky, sophisticated trip to French bistro music on the 'keep the home fires burning' "Papa Johnny's Arms," which features a beautiful jazzy chord progression, a lovely Django-esque guitar solo, and some clever and warm wordplay. 'Tilting' is a damned fine record. There are many other great songs and moments on this platter that I haven't mentioned, but I will allow you to discover them for yourselves. Hickman has set the bar high and hurdled above and beyond it. Now, you can do me a favor. Buy this album."" - ROCK GUITAR DAILY
    • "Tilting certainly has some Cracker overtones to it — Hickman’s brand on that band is too hard to escape. But much of this album shows Hickman stretching his musical boundaries by exploring Dust Bowl-era jazz (“Papa Johnny’s Arms”) and more modern rock flavors (“Takin’ Me Back” and “Another Road”).” - MARQUEE MAGAZINE
    • "This album really shows what Hickman is capable of - a consummate musician with a touch of class." – ELECTRIC GHOST / UK
    • “Veteran guitar slinger Johnny Hickman lets his songwriting speak volumes on his second solo set, Tilting. There's no doubt Hickman, the co-founder of alt-rock heroes Cracker, executes some impressive riffs here, but each and every part comes in service of the whole set, one that is marked by mature, tuneful songs. Hard-driving heartland rock, barroom jazz, Beatle-esque pop and bluesy overtones are all threaded into a folk-rock texture that is subdued enough to let Hickman's appealing, gently weathered vocals and thoughtful lyrics, peppered with a sort of lived-in wit and wisdom, ring through.” - COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE
    • “With his varied background, Hickman, takes on power pop, rock, dusty Americana and pretty melodies on his second solo album, Tilting. Standouts include ‘Dream Along With Me,’ a big piano-driven power ballad, the early Beatles-esque ‘Destiny Misspent,’ the power pop of ‘Sick Cynthia Thing’ and the catchy rocker ‘Another Road.’” - THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE
    • “Tilting plays like Hickman's eclectic history. It's a melting pot of folky roots rock with moments of country twang and new wave punch, plus a few other surprises. Johnny Hickman is confident in his choices and Tilting is anything but a single niche album.” - JESTER JAY MUSIC PRESS-ENTERPRISE