|The Honeycutters||On the Ropes|
The Honeycutters — On the Ropes (12 September 2016) Product Description
★ ‘On The Ropes’ builds on the critical success of The Honeycutters breakout album ‘Me Oh My’ on Organic Records which appeared on over 20 top 10 Year End Lists for 2015 and launched the band onto the national stage. Led by gifted songwriter and magnetic front woman Amanda Platt, the success of the band continues to grow with performances at major US festivals, special selected showcases at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville and opening for Tedeschi Trucks Band. The Honeycutters have sustained multiple months on the National Americana Radio Airplay Chart and in February nationally syndicated NPR radio show The World Cafe travelled to Asheville, NC to record a special live performance of the band.
★ “There are a lot of worthy and compelling Americana singer~songsters and bands out there right now, it’s a rich landscape. But The Honeycutters, fronted by Amanda Platt is surely a wonder to behold. The band just sounds so darn good and makes a style of country music that always makes me feel good, even when it’s so melancholy.” — Amy Ray of The Indigo Girls
★ “Ms. Platt deserves to be rubbing shoulders with Lucinda, Loretta and Nanci. Already well established in the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Honeycutters must be destined for far greater success. If not, the world is going to hell in a handcart.” — David Innes, R2~ Rock ‘n’ Reel (UK), 5*
★ “Chances come and go quickly, and The Honeycutters are not missing the opportunity presented to them. The band has a quarter and there is a ‘Jukebox’ begging for a little taste of it.” — The Alternate Root, Danny MCCloskey
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Album release: 12 September 2016 (UK)
Record Label: Organic Records
01 On the Ropes 3:15
02 Blue Besides 4:59
03 Golden Child 3:34
04 The Handbook 3:04
05 The Only Eyes 3:17
06 Back Row 4:40
07 Useless Memories 5:25
08 Piece of Heaven 4:05
09 Let’s Get Drunk 4:46
10 500 Pieces 3:45
11 Ache 3:43
12 Hallelujah 8:04
13 Barmaid’s Blues 6:49
•♦• Amanda Anne Platt: vocals, acoustic guitar, songwriting
•♦• Rick Cooper: bass
•♦• Evan Martin: keyboards, electric guitar
•♦• Josh Milligan: vocals, drums
•♦• Matt Smith: pedal steel guitar, electric guitar
Written by Mike Davies, 11 August, 2016
•♦• On the Ropes is a swift follow~up from The Honeycutters to last year’s breakout Me Oh My (read the album review here), twangsome singer Amanda Ann Platt again in the producer’s chair, sharing duties with Tim Surrett, the fourth album from the Asheville, North Carolina quintet sticks with the winning formula but bolsters it with a poppier edge and a wider thematic range to the lyrics.
•♦• As before, save for one cover, Platt is responsible for all the songs, kicking off with the jaunty, organ~backed, scales~descending country~rocking title track, adopting the boxing term to talk about a relationship falling apart as Platt sings how she “paid a lot to feel this bad” but has no intention of throwing in the towel on this “thousand dollar hangover.”
•♦• They follow this with Blue Besides, a scuffed, off beat drum riff introducing a classic sounding country number about the need to take chances and let go rather than settle for easy answers if you really want to live, adopting another metaphor in the line “that golden harp you’re playing, it was your ticket out of town. Now you’re gonna lay it down there in the dust”, fellow band member Matthew Smith adding colour on pedal steel.
•♦• The mid~tempo country soul Golden Child fleshes the sound out with more dominant organ and electric guitar, again using a music context (“standing backstage with a guitar and a beer”) for a memorable chorus about waiting for the right moment to come along. Tai Taylor on mandolin with Jeff Collins providing piano, the pace picks up for the swing~influenced The Handbook (which features harmony from trio Sweet Claudette), a wry comment about not always looking to follow the guidebook clichés to find romance and, yet again, not letting the moment pass as, in the last line, she observes “when your ship is sailing you’d better learn to swim.”
•♦• By contrast, The Only Eyes takes a slow sway through a song about past romantic failures, Platt’s delivery underscoring those comparisons to such greats as Lucinda Williams and Loretta Lynn. With Platt’s father, Mark, on harmonica, things punch up again for Back Row, a song about making choices and taking chances that has some of the album’s best lyrics and closes with the band stretching out on extended instrumental break.
•♦• Keening steel, mandolin and Josh Milligan’s brushed snare paves the way for Useless Memories, another slow tempo waltzer, here about holding on to the fuzzily warm comforts of the past to avoid facing the present and the future, while, another ballad (and another example of her gift for choruses), Piece of Heaven mines familiar honky-tonk territory about taking love for granted and only realizes what you had when you’ve lost it. They stay in the honky~tonk but order up a lot more beers with the rowdier, piano pounding and self~descriptive Let’s Get Drunk.
•♦• Another highlight arrives on pedal steel wings with the broken~hearted/fall from grace themed 500 Pieces (“it took four strong men to take you, took the whole damn world to break you”), the subject of the song now living a lonely life in a cheap hotel room. But, if that hurts, stripped to the bone for just muted electric guitar, a bluesy Ache puts the emotions through the wringer as Platt sings in the persona of a woman whose pride won’t let her admit the hurt her break~up has brought.
•♦• The penultimate cut is the sole cover, a bluegrass take on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that’s well sung and shows invention but, with its uptempo pacing, somewhat drains the song of the melancholia at its heart. Still, it’s a minor blip, and the album ends on a major high with Barmaid’s Blues, which draws together the album’s musings on lost chances and empty tomorrows in a seven~minute story in the voice of an old western saloon barmaid in a town where the gunslingers now wear rings and have barroom girls ironing their shirts, as, in a reversal of the usual scenario, she pours out her heart to a late night customer about how, the stubborn kind, she drove away all her hopes of love, leaving behind “just you and me, Joe, and the ghost of something great here in the room.” Unquestionably one of the finest Americana albums of 2016; you really do want to be in their corner.
•♦• “Their songwriting is first rate, their arrangements and instrumental ability in top form and with a front woman as assertive and impressive as singer Amanda Anne Platt, there’s nothing lacking in presence or execution. The songs may revolve around the need for assurance and affirmation, but clearly, Platt and her colleagues… have every contingency covered.” — Lee Zimmerman, No Depression
•♦• “In between the country~pop music of today and the gritty sound of yesterday you find The Honeycutters with a country~Americana sound that catches the ears of both the young and old. Musically, they make a traditional, honky~tonk~flavored sound bursting with driving rhythmic ambition, enchanting melodies and deeply poetic lyrics.” — Alan Cackett
•♦• “Like all great songwriters, Platt’s characters are alive, with enough nuance to convince the listener that they have entire lives outside the glimpse they get from the songs… there’s a delicate balance of melancholy and hope that takes a deft hand to pull off without sounding cliched. Platt’s hand is that deft.” — Chris Griffy, The Examiner
The story of The Honeycutters
♦•♦ “We’re switching things up a little. After four albums I’ve decided to step out and start using my own name. It’s something that a lot of people have encouraged me to do over the years, and I guess that 2017 just felt right.” That name, Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, is also the title of the band’s new album, which will be released by Organic Records on June 9, 2017. “We’re keeping The Honeycutters too because we don’t want to confuse people…really, we’ve always been Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters. I think I’ve just gotten to a place where I feel comfortable enough to be in the spotlight.”
♦•♦ Lyrically driven, the songs on Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters blend the band’s old~school country roots attitude with their shared influences of rock and folk. Amanda says of the album, “I think it’s just about life and all that that entails. Including but not limited to death, strangers, birthdays, money, leaving, arriving, seasons, corruption, and love.” Performing along with Platt, The Honeycutters are Matt Smith on pedal steel and Stratocaster, Rick Cooper on bass, Josh Milligan on drums and harmony vocals, and Evan Martin on keys and Telecaster.
♦•♦ Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters is the group’s third release on Organic Records, and fifth album. Assembling the same the same team as 2016’s On The Ropes Balsam Range’s Tim Surrett steps in for the second time to co~produce this album along with Amanda. Its thirteen tracks were recorded, mixed, and mastered by Scott Barnett at Crossroads Studios in Arden, NC. There is an empathetic and charming wit engrained in Amanda’s songwriting. She has a knack for accessing a deep well of emotion and applying it to her story~telling, whether she is writing from her own experiences or immersing herself into the melody of emotions in another person’s life. (excerpt)
|The Honeycutters||On the Ropes|