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by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs

THE HONEYCUTTERS Irene

The only thing sweeter than the maudlin black-and-white family photos lining the Honeycutters’ (www.thehoneycutters.com) new album Irene is the sound of singer and guitarist Amanda Platt’s tattered, lilting voice. Her plain-Jane twang is at the forefront of the Asheville country sextet’s heartfelt and often bittersweet first release, though a careful listen reveals the rich depth created through Peter James’ highly understated, but integral lower harmony that characterizes the rich textures found all throughout Irene. The album’s opener “Better Woman” uses a simple AABB rhyme pattern that’s all but forgotten in the genre, yet works so fluidly that the first stanza of “I always lose the same old bet/ say I’m through then I forget/ I always smoke the same old cigarette/ because they haven’t killed me yet” is enough to sell you on every word thereafter. It’s a true country album through and through, with tales of pain and heartbreak and the occasional bit of wit ready to fly right over the unsuspecting listeners head. On “On My Mind,” Platt sings “the glass is empty and there’s nothing for me at the bottom/ I always thought I’d like to sing the blues and then I got ‘em,” suggesting a sense of irony exists within her that isn’t meant to be picked up upon by anyone but those sharing in her predicament. She’s less subversive and more plaintive with “In the Money,” where she reminds herself that her man would “show her things she’d never seen, but we’re sittin’ here in Texas eatin’ cold Chinese for breakfast.” Instrumentally, the album is buoyed by beautiful fiddle, mandolin and dobro melodies that evoke images of 10-gallon hats on the Grand Old Opry stage. Eight different musicians litter the album’s 12 tracks, but always to the fullest effect and never once feeling cluttered or clichéd. While the band’s acoustic sensibilities do tend to dominate and rightfully so, Platt does plug in briefly for the coldhearted admonition “Marie,” but leaves the dobro and mandolin to stand out aside from the growling opening licks. It’s a true throwback indeed, but Irene is such a good album that one can only wonder why the country airwaves aren’t filled with more like it.

93/100

The Honeycutters will be performing at The Blind Tiger Thursday, April 22 with the fantastic Brooklyn country-folk band YARN; at the Green Bean Friday, April 23; and the Shakori Hills Festival on April 24 and 25.

For a chance to have your band’s CD reviewed, mail it to: YES! Weekly, 5500 Adams Farm Lane, Suite 204, Greensboro, NC 27407. ATTN: Ryan Snyder.

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