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Music Review - `Threadbare` by Honey Don't (ea)

Honey Don't - Threadbare  (click on image to watch video)

 20  April 2022



Honey Don’t’s music tends blur the lines and that’s a good thing. The hardly, strictly Bluegrass band adds hints  of Country, Folk, Blues, Gospel, Jazz  and Rockabilly into their songs, which seems highly apropos since they take their name from a classic Carl Perkins song.

The brainchild of Bill Powers and wife Shelley Gray (the pair made their bones as half of the venerable Bluegrass four-piece, Sweet Sunny South),  Honey Don’t beganin the Western Colorado town of Paonia, but really took flight in Bend, Oregon.  Threadbare is their third long-player.

The album is dotted with a couple of covers, the record kicks into gear with a fresh take on Kieran Kane’s “Eight More Miles.” Toward the end of the record they acquit themselves nicely on Willy Tea Taylor’s “The Wong Way To Run.”

Several songs have been in the band’s live sets for a few years now, a couple were inspired by the Centennial State.  “Denver Ramble” blends prickly guitars, walking bass, rippling mandolin and a do-si-do rhythm.  Lyrics pay tribute to a thriving club scene that features “Hot Rod cars, Honky-Tonk bars, hardwood floors and steel guitars.” Meanwhile, “Big Water Ahead” is a propulsiveshuffle powered by cascading mandolin, roiling dobro riffs, flinty basslines and in-the-pocket harmonies.

The record’s highlights include the rollicking Texas Two-Step  of “Five Foot Four From Fort Worth,” the chugging title track, the raucous fun of “High Country News Girl” and the dipsomaniacal delight of “Win, Whiskey, Beer Or Gin.” 

Jazzy elements coalesce around “Anything For You,” a finger-poppin’ encomium to Bill and Shell’s two sons. Although “For The Roses” takes it’s title from a vintage Joni Mitchell song, this percolating, Honey Don’t original pays homage to the late labor-activist, Hobo Folksinger, Storyteller/Poet, U. Utah Phillips.

Other interesting cuts include the keening, Gospel-inflected shiver of “Red Mountain Pass” and  “Ain’t No Dam Up  On The Yampa,” which shares some musical DNA with the Allman  Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man” and philosophical leanings with Edward  Abbey’s “Monkeywrench Gang.” The record closes with the sweeping instrumental, “Daybreak On The Muddy.” 

Along with Bill Powers on vocals, guitar and mandolin and Shelley Gray on vocals and bass, Honey Don’t includes Benji Nagel on vocals and dobro, CJ Neary on fiddle and Don Hawkins on snare. “Threadbare” is a wild ride from start to finish.

Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here




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