Monday, April 15, 2019

Francine Honey releases To Be Continued…

Francine Honey is far from a newcomer to the music world and her Canadian upbringing has proven to be no impediment for her discovering success on wider United States stages. Her third album To Be Continued… features the best eleven songs she’s committed to a full length recording and her songwriting acumen has advanced far since 2014’s Re-Drawn. She is investing much more of herself than ever before in these new songs and fills the album with extensive variety few of her contemporaries can readily match. Honey has found an ideal manifestation of the sound she hears in her head with the release of To Be Continued… and it will open countless new vistas for her art moving forward from here.

“Snowflakes on My Eyelashes” is one of the finest poetic moments included on the release. The sensitivity Honey exhibits as a vocalist elevates already exceptional lyrics to the level of performed poetry and the nuanced musical backing further reinforces the composition’s clear strengths. It is a note perfect introduction to the album – both musically and lyrically. Another delicate moment on the release arrives with its title track. “To Be Continued” underlines Honey’s storytelling talents without ever becoming maudlin – I feel it is a song you can only relate to past your thirtieth birthday and, with each passing year, its reflections will only gain resonance. The haunted musical arrangement is well suited for such ruminations. The bridge is particularly affecting
“Honey” takes To Be Continued… in a tasty bluesy direction without ever succumbing to the same tired blues clichés often weighing down such efforts. Much of this can be attributed to the inherent playfulness of her vocal; she owns this lyric with irrepressible personality and, of course, a wealth of talent. The musicians acquit themselves quite well and provide gritty, yet tempered, accompaniment.

There’s palpable pathos in the single “Shacked Up Sweetie”, understated, but plenty of the aforementioned playfulness as well. The song’s video underlines the playfulness without ever dragging the song into outright comedy and reminds me of the top shelf promotional fare often attached to some of the best country singles from the dawn of the genre’s video age in the late 80’s-early 90’s with its celebratory air. It has a light honkytonk sound, again understated but present, and the band keeps things on point while Honey leads the way with her powerful voice.

“Mamas Take Bad Dreams Away” reminds me of the carefully wrought emotional landscape laid out in the opener and title song. It’s a deceptively simple song insofar as it depicts a scene familiar to many, but the well-chosen language and vocal artistry she brings to phrasing the lyrics comes together for one of the album’s most satisfying efforts. The track “Marilyn” is another of the album’s fine points and packs quite an emotional wallop. The writing powering this tune, especially lyrically, has some of the deepest nuance you will hear on To Be Continued… and the band, specifically the acoustic guitar work, frames everything in a compelling manner for Honey’s vocal. Francine Honey should be very proud of this album. It risks cliché, but there is something here for everyone; fun, deadly seriousness, and an abundance of emotion marking every musical and lyrical turn. To Be Continued… is her first studio album in a while, but it is undoubtedly worth the wait.

Trace Whittaker

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