Archive for the ‘Organic Records’ Tag

Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters- review   Leave a comment

Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters
Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters
Organic Records

By Donald Teplyske

AMANDA-ANNE-PLATT-HONEYCUTTERS-ON-WALLHaving recorded four impressive albums as The Honeycutters, including the masterpiece that was 2016’s On The Ropes, Asheville, NC’s outstanding roots outfit has re-branded themselves as Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters.

Featuring the consistent Honeycutters line-up of Matthew Smith (pedal steel and electric guitar), Rick Cooper (bass), Josh Milligan (drums and percussion), and Platt (lead and harmony vocals and acoustic guitar), with the addition of Evan Martin (keyboard including Hammond B3), the group’s approach to music has continued to evolve, becoming increasingly mainstream while retaining the appealing and authentic qualities that have made them one of the most satisfying Americana outfits recording.

Platt is a strong songwriter and an impressive and memorable vocalist. She has that important capability to write in a variety of voices, making each genuine and authentic to the experiences conveyed.

Again co-produced with roots and bluegrass veteran Tim Surrett, Platt gently establishes the group as a vehicle under her control launching into “Birthday Song” as the self-titled album’s lead track, a song that brings to the fore Platt’s command of writing, singing, and song arrangement. Deceptively languid in atmosphere, and sounding like no one as much as Natalie Maines, the introspective Appalachian honky tonk singer observes that with the passage of years and the compounding of commitments, “some days the answers just get farther.” Similarly, one observes initial forays toward adulthood with “Late Summer’s Child.” The group could do worse than to seek inspiration from the likes of the Dixie Chicks.

One of the most acutely realized examples of country-based Americana recently released, Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters comes in at a generous 54-minutes, and doesn’t waver in focus or intensity. Utilizing a focus on lyrical rhythm similarly to Zoe Muth’s modern classic “If I Can’t Trust You With A Quarter,” “The Guitar Case,” with an impressive guitar and keys instrumental foundation, finds our road warrior focusing on the positives of the chosen life. Platt doesn’t take the easy way and bask on the weary harshness of life, preferring to find positives when possible. A relationship has crumbled amicably within “The Road,” and “Diamonds in the Rough” looks at various observed circumstances through warmly colored lenses.

Consistently across the album, The Honeycutters demonstrate their ability to ideally frame songs to complement Platt. As she’s the group’s songwriter, this is obviously by design but that doesn’t detract from its effectiveness. Intriguing and timely progressions of notes highlight songs at just the right moment, as when Platt is contemplating the last five years of a relationship (“Brand New Start”) and with a bit of Don Rich-inspired flavor on “The Things We Call Home.”

Another welcome offering from Amanda Anne Platt and her group; as always true, country music is in fine hands.

Front Country- Other Love Songs review   Leave a comment

Other Love Songs My review of Front Country’s second album has been posted at Lonesome Road Review.

I am surprised to find that I hadn’t reviewed their previous album Sake of the Sound, although I did write Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman’s album in a rather long-winded piece written during the fall of 2013. Just because of the nature of the albums, I prefer Sake of the Sound to Other Love Songs, but this second album is very strong.

Many years ago and as part of a side conversation during a bluegrass jam, an acquaintance and I traded thoughts about the possibilities of mixing elements of bluegrass, specifically the acoustic instrumentation built around five instruments, and rock and roll. This was post-O, Brother and around the time OCMS was starting to break. We decided that there had to be a market for acoustic rock ‘n’ roll, that is music that thematically and topically fit closer to rock and pop than it did bluegrass or country, but which was played on acoustic instruments while embracing elements of the folk and ‘grass traditions.

Front Country’s Other Love Songs might have been imagining.

 

The Honeycutters- Me Oh My review   1 comment

The Honeycutters Me Oh My Organic Records

Honeycutters2015_5_THUMBNAIL_WITH-BORDERBands work hard to capture their music within a memorable tagline, and mostly these are ignored by all but the most desperate of writers. Seldom does the message resonate past the top of a webpage.

The exception appears to be that of The Honeycutters because “Appalachian Honky Tonk” fair nails the head.

The Asheville, NC quintet released their third long player this spring, and as happens it took a while to percolate to the top of the Fervor Coulee desk. I did listen to it a couple or three times upon receipt, but must have been distracted by something shiny elsewhere since I didn’t give Me Oh My its due.

Thank goodness for lazy afternoons on the deck, because this is an exceptional album that I have grown to appreciate.

While there is much to consider within, I think what finally got me were lines from “All You Ever”: “And now it’s just the same damn thing/You fail like you’ve been practicing/Everything you ever tried to be was just a fantasy/King of all the hypocrites/Every day the same old thing/Well ain’t you getting sick of it.”

Now there’s a frog on the table for ya to consider. (The online lyric sheet inserts a rhyming expletive in place of the final ‘thing’ in that exchange.)

Largely acoustic, The Honeycutters utilize instruments to construct an aggressive honky tonk country sound that is quite miraculous. Tal Taylor (mandolin), Matt Smith (pedal steel and reso), Rick Cooper (bass), and Josh Milligan (drums, percussion, and most of the vocal harmony) provide the group’s formidable instrumental backbone, while powerful vocalist Amanda Anne Platt fronts the group.

Basically, this is unapologetic hillbilly rock ‘n’ roll. In the hands of others, a song like “Edge of the Frame” would be a FM radio staple, but The Honeycutters place a wistfulness within their songs that can only emanate from country roots: had it been released in 1995, “Jukebox” might have been a CMT hit. Free of the navel-gazing moodiness and egocentrism permeating much of contemporary Americana, Platt’s songs ring with the authenticity of lived truths. This is commercial country twenty years too late to be mainstream.

Songs like “Not that Simple” and “Ain’t it the Truth” speak to the crux of infidelity and settling, whereas “Wedding Song” flips the plot, giving hope to those trapped in misery: “When you found me I was broken clear in two/My heart was split wide open, tired of hoping, tired of playing the fool./But you did what I thought nobody could do/You pieced me back together/kissed the hurting parts, made me new.”

The album’s strongest song, if not most accessible, is one Fred Eaglesmith and Greg Trooper might be proud to own. “Hearts of Men” artfully captures the troubled darkness that seeps through one’s mind during long, lonely drives. Here Platt constructs a short story in song, a sketch that is impactful in description and significant in emotional heft, punctuated by an atmosphere created of pedal steel and Telecaster.

Elsewhere, the truths jabs in the dark, quick fatal stabs of poetic insight. “I’m tired of the truth, I’m tired of pretending” is sung in “I’ll Be Loving You” while the title track offers, “I had a baby but the good Lord took her/She was an angel but her wings were crooked/I guess he figured he could love her better than me.”

Me Oh My is an album that should have immediately appealed to me, rich as it is in the rural roots of country, folk, and ‘grass. That it didn’t is entirely on me. I’m grateful it was patient with me, holding off the others until I could feel its soul.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Red June- Ancient Dreams review   Leave a comment

untitledThis week at Lonesome Road Review, I write about the new album by Asheville, North Carolina’s Red June. Featuring a striking piece of art as its album cover- by Nancy Hilliard Joyce, the creation of which is featured in the EPK at the band’s website– the initial positive impact of this recording, not to mention the goodwill and anticipation created by the band’s two previous recordings, made this disc standout from the others received this month.

Good thing the music stands up to that promise. Ancient Dreams is a pretty dramatic acoustic Americana recording, one that should provide many hours of listening pleasure this spring and summer.

More people are starting to notice this band; with more high profile gigs- they just played Merlefest- Red June is a band to watch. My review can be found here.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

@FervorCoulee