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Frank Black
Honeycomb
Back Porch Records
www.frankblack.net


I'm so excited. Like so many folks I know, after the infamous Cult Of Ray record, I decided I no longer needed to listen to Frank Black. He seemed to have played out all the good music from his body and was turning towards Brian Wilson directions I didn't need to live through with another artist. Imagine my joy at discovering that Frank Black was finally back to making good, solid rock music again, even throwing in a bit of Americana influence. I'm still excited, and it's been months since I discovered.

The biggest thing to notice on Honeycomb is that the songs are for the most part recorded live in the studio. There are minimal overdubs, none of them even remotely noticeable. The music has a certain gleam to it that speaks of the glory days of early rock… possibly the work of Steve Cropper playing guitar on the entire record. The cast of players reads like a studio wish list… besides Cropper, Anton Fig bangs the drums, Spooner Oldham joins in on keyboards, and blues giant Buddy Miller even swings by to lend his guitar chops to the mix. The last magic ingredient to the sound on Honeycomb was its being recorded in Nashville. You can't deny it, there is something magical in the air around that town… it makes great music.

The result of all these fine pieces being stuck together is a record of highly listenable and easy-sounding brilliance. The album starts strong with "Selkie Bride", a beautiful song based around clean acoustic guitars and piano runs… This song is more reminiscent of old-school Frank Black/Pixies than one would imagine from the laidback vibe it gives off. The vocal melodies are highly ingenious, and gently accent the clever lyric at the best of times. The lead single "I Burn Today" is laced with close-to-Nashville-country style double stop licks and another laid back rhythm that will certainly promote a sense of well being and casual happiness. Steve Cropper proves that he has not lost "it" as he shines on "Lone Child", with its groovy bassline and ample space for great guitar work. "Strange Goodbye" sees Jean Black adding her voice for a nice duet with Frank while Glen Campbell style country drives on in the background. This song is surely one of the finer points of Frank Black's career.

Frank Black steps out on this record and takes a few songs out to cover some fine classic rhythm and blues music. Included is a shining version of the remarkable "Dark End Of The Street", which stays close to the original, but emphasizes the slow groove and smoky attitude that the song has always possessed. The guitar solo is divine, filled with superb tone and a ton of soul. Doug Sahm's "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day" is a joy to hear re-invented by someone of Black's unique character. The song maintains its Texas sound, but gains a bit of bounce from the inclusion of a swingier rhythm track and bright guitar comping. Frank sure knows how to pick his covers, lending his own unique sound to them while maintaining the integrity of the original.

I suppose I was never not a fan of Black Francis, but now I can say that he's once again making music that I can wholeheartedly recommend to friends and family alike. It's a good time to be alive.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Selkie Bride
2. I Burn Today
3. Lone child
4. Another Velvet Nightmare
5. Dark End Of The Street
6. Go Find Your Saint
7. Song Of The Shrimp
8. Strange Goodbye
9. Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day
10. Honeycomb
11. My Life Is In Storage
12. Atom In My Heart
13. Violet
14. Sing For Joy


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