There’s some delightful and diverse geography lessons to be gleaned from a mighty pleasing spin through the down home, laid back, easy strumming and slow burning fire of the long-awaited debut album by The Healers. Led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Peter Hutchison, the six piece group features an all-star lineup of Brooklyn-based musicians playing Celtic, bluegrass and country-folk influenced songs (composed by Hutchison) that roll like spirited jams a group of pals might have on a front porch in Nashville or Appalachia – or anyplace this kind of music feels homegrown.
In line with that imagery, The Healers recorded all 13 tracks entirely live at Grand Street Recordings in Brooklyn. And in fact, one of the more rollicking tracks is “Front Porch,” a tune of longing and desire featuring the group’s grand three-part harmonies and Bobby Hawk’s caressing, buoyant fiddle harmony. Now for the third part of the quirky geography. For all that, the track that’s been getting the most attention and lighting up the airwaves since its release in Summer 2023 is a plucky, jangling cover of KISS’ high octane classic rocker “Detroit Rock City.”
Though it’s actually not as engaging as most of Hutchison’s glorious originals, familiarity makes sense when trying to launch a new band concept. Let’s just say that when Hutchison sings “Get up, everybody’s gonna move their feet/Get down everybody’s gonna leave their seat,” with fiddle and mandolin (Dennis Lichtman) riding shotgun, it’s less a stadium anthem than a campfire-ready singalong – and actually more engaging than the original. KISS isn’t the only legendary band The Healers pay homage to.
Amidst engaging “right”-romps like “Set Things Right,” “Oh Yeah, Oh Well, All Right” and “Someday We’ll Get It Right,” the group tips its guitars, mandlon, fiddles and French horn to “Levon and The Band,” recounting the sweetness of hearing The Band’s music “crashing through” the radio and allowing it to be the fuel to “sing/bring me home” – with sweet, hummable “na na na” vocals to heartfelt effect. A veteran of over three decades in music, Hutchison also lends his songwriting prowess to a band called Empire of Light. Let’s hope other endeavors don’t prevent him from continuing our much-needed healing with this bunch in the future.