I have two great loves when it comes to country music these days and neither comes from Nashville. One--- from all places, Seattle--- is Zoe Muth, who used to front The Lost High Rollers and I say used to because I hear all too little about her these days and what I do hear makes me think the Rollers are a thing of the past--- at least, The Lost High Rollers I know. They completely knocked me out at first listen with their self-titled album circa 2009, an album which still holds up today--- beautifully.
The other is Amanda Anne Platt who fronts The Honeycutters. Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, they have been building a following for a number of years now and for good reason. One is that Platt, like Muth, is a songwriter of the first water who cuts through the chaff like I only wish the accepted songwriters of today could. Her songs, like her and Muth's voices, are pure and unadorned with echo chambers and autotune and whatever tricks the so-called pros need to use to make whichever star of the moment presentable. She, like Muth, sings from the heart. They are something truly special.
I don't know why, but I have a problem separating the two. There is something in the approach or maybe the depth of the songs which draws me to the music. They sing about life, but not just life--- about living. They somehow have the ability to find the essence of not only the situations but people they write about. They bring them to life.
But why should I struggle to explain it when I have links to the music itself? Here are a few examples from The Honeycutters. From The Honeycutters' album, Irene, recorded live. Track one, Side one of the band's first album, Irene:
See what I mean? Culture and sincerity wrapped up in a rural wrappe. There is something fresh and clean in the music which so many artists miss, as concerned as they are with genre and the music scene. Listen to this from their second album, When Bitter Met Sweet:
Both excellent tracks from excellent albums, or at least I believe so. They continue the trend with their new album Me Oh My. The same x-ray vision updated, let us say. I don't know what it is, but the music sends me back to my youth where everything seemed rural and things were not as complicated as they seem today. When hypocrisy was obvious and living was hard but did not seem so. When truth could not be so obscured by the forces of evil. When talking with your neighbor was what you did, like them or not. When love was not something to be examined beyond pure heartbreak.
Perhaps that is the core of what makes The Honeycutters a step above most of the bands of today. There is purity here--- in the music, in the lyrics, in the performance. As much as most writers will point to Amanda Anne Platt as the heart, The Honeycutters are a band in the true sense of the word. For now. And hopefully, for a very long time.
The new album is another in what I truly believe will be a long string of classics. Here are a couple of songs to support my case:
What can I say? Music this good speaks for itself. But it will not prevent me from passing it around. The Honeycutters have earned it. They deserve to be heard. And you need to hear it.