Putting Hands Together for Broken Pieces, a Sparkling Debut by The Four26 By Michael Hickins


The Four26 is the best indie folk band you never heard of. Fronted by the songwriting duo of Peter Carucci and Becki Davis, they come off a little bit country, but with lyrics and a backbeat more in the vein of Americana rock like The Band or Wilco than Country Willie.

Their debut album, Broken Pieces, features a pair of singles, Greenbrier and Highlandtown (Tami’s Song), that I’ll get to in a moment.

But what drew me to their music from the start was Davis’s voice, which you should catch in person if you get the chance, and which she really shows off with What She Wants, which is an unabashed and full-throated anthem to love, joy and freedom.

Davis has an ambitious range (think Joni Mitchell), with the precise vocalizations and natural instinct of Stevie Nicks.

The writing (by Carucci) is super-sharp – with smart, unsentimental lines like:

You change your mind like the tide/you find no anchor in me

But while the song is unsentimental and knowing, it’s also hopeful, which is a hallmark of this album, the overall message of which seems to be, “life ain’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn good. Enjoy it.”

The band doesn’t make Davis do all the work – the song is carried along by a lead guitar by Wilson Montuori, who at times veered into riffs reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour, and by a powerful bass line played by Dean Marchi.

Letter to Father is another tune that really hooked me – this time with Carucci singing lead. The keyboards by Jon Cobert, are electrifying – and are prominent throughout Broken Pieces. Cobert is no rookie, by the way, having played alongside John Lennon, Tom Chapin, Loudon Wainwright III, Laura Branigan, and John Denver, among many others.

The band really puts all their strengths together in this tune – perfect harmonies, strong percussion, keyboards, and lead guitar playing off each other, a powerful, catchy hook, and an evocative theme around love, betrayal, and strength.

I’ve got my reasons for what went wrong/you should have known, known

I’ve got my reasons for staying gone/I won’t go home, home again

With Greenbrier, Davis and Carucci clearly want to mess with our expectations. It’s the most country-sounding piece in the collection, and the title might even lead you to think there’s a bit of Irish hokum thrown in. But the lyrics are smarter than you expect – “the grass ain’t greener on the other side/’til Greenbrier” – and leave you wondering just how literally you should take them.

The guitar, superbly done by Montuori, underscores the song’s country roots, but then also pulls the rug out from your auditory expectations, especially during the last quarter of the song, when the band changes pace like a fullback in soccer streaking down a wing when you least expect it.

Highlandtown features strong keyboards and excellent drum (Frank Picarazzi) fills throughout, and Davis’s voice is soft and disciplined. The lyrics also underscore the band’s overall theme:

When life’s tough, just give love/And when you give love, it all comes to you…/And when you live love, love gets you through.

The songs aren’t all sweetness and light – as exemplified by My Friend, an ode to betrayal if ever there was one. (I was just the chip you played to get you where you’re going).

The album is thick with meaty songs – Big Sky Joy, Nuevo Laredo, and Broken Pieces, the album’s title song, round out the drop – that reward their audience by treating us like grownups. You’ll catch their influences for sure – a Grateful Dead melody here, a Ray Davies vocal intonation there – but you’ll never feel like the music is derivative — they make it distinctly their own.

Rather, the songs use the alt-folk tradition as a familiar starting point, while Davis and Carucci’s voices (the singing kind as well as the writing) take us on personal journeys we can relate to. Whether it’s celebrating the power of love to get us through, or feeling the loneliness of the journey, the album is less “Broken Pieces” and more a mosaic of life that the band lets you piece back together, maybe with a little help from your friends.

Michael Hickins is the author of The Silk Factory: Finding Threads of My Family’s True Holocaust Story. He lives in New York.


1 thoughts on “Putting Hands Together for Broken Pieces, a Sparkling Debut by The Four26 By Michael Hickins

Comments are closed.