The Appalachians have been the home to many of the greats in American music, whether by birth or stylistic adoption. The region continues to produce acts that graduate from local heroes to national or even international acclaim. The latest travellers down that path are The Honeycutters who hail from Asheville in North Carolina. Fronted by twangy voiced songwriter (and producer) Amanda Platt, Me Oh My, their third album, is likely to be the one that brings them mainstream attention.
It’s firmly traditional Blue Ridge country with a contemporary awareness and songs that address timeless and universal issues of love, loss and regrowth. kicking things off is Jukebox, a two step journey from loss to redemption with the healing help of music. Whilst the train chugging rhythm of All You Ever is a melodically catchy song about how a little encouragement can change a life, and the title track’s pedal steel streaked world-wearied waltzing offers an anthem to modern day womanhood as Platt sings “some girls marry and some girls wait, some girls worry that it’s too late, some do better without that ball and chain.” It’s a classic track likely to find itself on albums by other female country acts in the years to come and just one example of both Platt’s solid songwriting skills and her ability to interpret a song for maximum emotional effect.
Relationships provide the backbone to the 14 songs, whether celebratory, as on Wedding Song, a bluegrass number about a healing love written for a friend’s wedding present. The sadness of lost love weighs heavy on the slow waltzing Little Bird and the resignation of accepting that some things can never be that underpins the mid-tempo Not That Simple.
There is, however, never any bitterness in Platt’s songs, no matter how heavy the hurt, only an acceptance of how love can sometimes work; on the jaunty descending chords of Edge of the Frame she sings “I don’t want to ask you again why you make a beggar out of your best friend, you pull me in and you push me away,…you’ll take anything you think you can and leave me only with myself to blame”. And on the uptempo, upbeat six minutes of I’ll Be Loving You she offers optimism with “every day is up and down like the price of gasoline.. someday we’re gonna laugh about it, see our troubles in a different light”. On the tender album closer, A Life For You, although the relationship’s ended, she’s still been “dreaming of a life for you, where everything goes right for you, I’ve even dreamed a wife for you to love you like I couldn’t.” Even Carolina, a love song to their home state, has that push and pull quality of wanting to stay with the familiar but also yearning to find “something I’m sure I’ve never known.”
It doesn’t stray far from its comfort zone, but, honest and open, stained by life, there’s not a track here that doesn’t stand hearing again and again, and comparisons to Gretchen Peters, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith or even early Lucinda would not go amiss.
Review by: Mike Davies
Me Oh My is released in the UK on July 6th.