Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters (self-titled)
Organic Records – 4 August 2017
After four albums under the band name The Honeycutters, Amanda Anne Platt is stepping into the spotlight, although the musician lineup remains as Matt Smith on steel and Stratocaster, bassist Rick Cooper, drummer Josh Milligan and Evan Martin on keys and Telecaster. There’s no shift to the musical style, however, an often laid back mix of country, Americana and roots, tinted here and there with shades of blues and pop.
Time passing is the theme of album opener Birthday Song as she sings how “Every time it gets colder I get another year older. I start looking for lines in the bathroom mirror”, but there’s an acceptance that things will be fine rather than concerns and she’s “still so damn glad to be here.”
Reflection peppered with heartache and longing provide the basic thematic template, Platt again summoning thoughts of Gretchen Peters and Nanci Griffiths in her keening twang. The mid-tempo pedal steel-streaked Long Ride is a love song about being in it for the duration. On a similar theme, but with a sadder spin, accompanied by just solo acoustic guitar Learning How To Love Him is a poignant song, apparently written for a friend, about a wife looking back on the life she and her terminally ill husband shared. Rare Thing too is a celebration of solid love and how to keep it together that comes with a soaring chorus, twangsome guitar solo and organ fade. Likewise, the dreamy western swing flavoured, complete with honky tonk piano and steel, waltz around the floor The Things We Call Home oozes contentment. This is echoed in the homespun sentiments of the learning to appreciate “What We’ve Got“, while Brand New Start offers the album’s make up number.
It’s not all such a smooth and easy ride. Eden tells of a single mother trying to scrape a living for her family in the Indiana heartlands where the farms have gone belly-up, rolling along in a manner that recalls the best of Mary Chapin Carpenter as she sings “please, let me back inside the garden. I won’t eat anything that’s fallen from that goddamned tree.” On a similarly sober note, on The Guitar Case, she sings of holding true to your dreams in the face of whatever the world throws at you because “You can do what you love, or you can go to hell”, even if it does “bite you in the ass.”
The hook-friendly, organ-backed Diamond In The Rough is bedrock soulful alt-country. A song about life and dreams and how “everybody wants to be something to write home about”. While, tempered with pedal steel, piano and an electric guitar solo The Good Guys (Dick Tracy) finds her advising someone to stop messing his lover around, “buy that girl a ring” and build a life and stop playing the macho role.
By contrast, Late Summer’s Child is a gently sketched portrait of a girl who “wears lonely like a gown”. She sings of a restless soul who, while “it’s love she means to make, but she can’t help a little heart break when the sky starts growing cold with the early threat of snow.”
The album ends on another reflective note with The Road, a song of parting, about moving on and not looking back when “time and distance make us strangers”, about letting go before friendship sours and looking forward to meeting again somewhere along the journey. “I hope the road is good to you till then”, are the final words, recalling the Irish blessing may the road rise up to meet you. You should make a point of calling in on them along the way.
Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters are on tour in the UK through August 2018. Dates can be found here: http://www.honeycutters.com/tour/