Charlie Hickey - Nervous At Night
Born into a musical family, as a child Charlie Hickey would obsessively watch videos of his parents on tour in their old band Uma, learning all the lyrics that he loved but didn’t understand. This introduction to music sowed a seed, and Hickey was soon writing songs of his own, playing on the guitars that lay around him and singing about the little details of his school days. He continued throughout his teen years, his songs becoming an outlet for the growing anxieties that Hickey now understands to be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
This journey has led to Nervous At Night, Hickey’s debut album which releases via Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records. Where 2021’s Count The Stairs EP was an attempt to capture the rawness of his performance, Nervous At Night comes alive within its production, Hickey and producer Marshall Vore leaning into their perfectionist tendencies to find the best version of each track. “He’s always interested in how you can push things further but also reigns them in when necessary,” Hickey says. “I think that’s the true hallmark of a good producer.”
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Hickey calls it a pop record but admits that sonically it moves in many directions, an amalgamation of his love for the folk singers of yesteryear and more contemporary peers, from Taylor Swift and The 1975 to the Californian songwriter and producer Blake Mills. This shifting of styles – from the album’s quiet heavy-hearted ballads to its more gleaming, hook- led tracks - mirrors its overarching theme: life’s graceless passage between teenage years and adulthood.
And so we have ‘Planet With Water’, a plaintive love song that bristles with nostalgia, Hickey singing of phone calls after school, of hearing a neighbour’s TV through the wall. Elsewhere ‘Mid Air’ holds a similar weight, Hickey singing of “spinning in mid-air, waiting for somewhere to land, or some face to show up” as the song flourishes around his voice, delicately accompanied by guest turns from fellow LA musicians Harrison Whitford, Christian Lee Hutson and Mason Stoops.
Nervous At Night comes alive in its juxtapositions, chronicling the constant push and pull of life, both its stagnancy and motion. Chiefly though, this is an album about connection, how even through those struggles we rely on the people around us to keep moving forwards. “I’d like to write songs that are for everyone, that let people into my inner world while also hopefully making people feel less alone on their own. I hope that these songs can be there for somebody the way my favourite songs have been for me.”
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