Among the piñon and juniper scrublands of northern New Mexico is a 16,000-acre area known as the Sabinoso Wilderness. For years, this was the only federally designated wilderness with no public access points; the only legal way to experience the Sabinoso was as the guest of a local landowner. In the mid-2010s, the nonprofit Wilderness Land Trust intervened by purchasing an adjoining property, unlocking public access to the wilderness.
Luke Gullickson Trio's Wilderness offers a wander through the places the roads still don't go. "Braided Creek," the extended folk meditation that opens the album, nods to a book of the same title by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser, who published their poetic correspondence as a collection of unsigned aphorisms. Gullickson’s “Braided Creek” lays out ground rules and invokes a wider space for listening. “Sabinoso” features spiraling lines and intense interplay between Gullickson's Rhodes piano, Donna Bacon's viola, and Lisa Donald's cello. The final, shortest piece, “Wilderness,” proceeds from a Rhodes improvisation to a charming melody that sits quietly in the canyon, happy, finally, to be allowed entrance.