THREE by honeyhoney
Genre: Country, Americana
Favorite Tracks: “Big Man, “Yours to Bear”, “Bad People”
Country music gets a (mostly deserved) bad rap these days. Pretty boys posing as earnest, blue-collar average Joes, singing about the same five subjects is about as boring as it gets. It’s really too bad, though, because there are some great country artists sprinkled throughout American music. The obvious exception for people who generally hate country is Johnny Cash, but I challenge anyone to listen to “I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry” by Hank Williams, or “Jolene” by Dolly Parton, and not feel moved. There’s the potential in country to really marinate in pain and sadness in a way that’s deeply cathartic, it’s just that that potential is rarely capitalized on anymore.
Luckily, honeyhoney is one band that seems to be trying to connect country back with the release of longing and sadness. What’s more, they enjoy combining country with folk, blues, and bluegrass in a stellar divergence from what has proven to be the norm in country today. In fact, they’ve labeled themselves as being “alternative folk”, but it’s pretty hard to listen to their music and hear anything besides country. So far, they’re a niche band that’s really only known to frequent listeners of the JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE podcast, but with their latest release, entitled THREE, it’s hard to not feel as if they’re going to make a splash in music at large very soon. THREE is an album of sweet harmonies, passionate and soothing melodies, and surprisingly haunting and poetic lyrics.
While they utilize studio musicians throughout the album, honeyhoney is a duo made up of Benjamin Jaffe and Suzanne Santo, based out of Los Angeles. They’ve been making music together since 2006 and the bond they share is palpably intense on almost every track on this record. They’re both accomplished musicians on multiple instruments, but it’s their harmonies that really make your ears melt from track to track. Combined with the confessional and honest lyrics, THREE makes it feel at times as if you’re being given a glimpse of the most intimate moments of both of their lives; the raw nakedness of their emotions could almost feel uncomfortable if the accompanying music wasn’t so soothing. The track “Yours to Bear” is one of the most honest and moving love songs in recent memory: “You’re the only one who knows my name, has the guts to treat me this way, calls me out when I cause you pain, you don’t hesitate and you shoot me straight.”
The one disappointment contained on THREE are the Black Keys-derivative songs that close it out: “Sweet Thing” and “Marry Rich”. It’s not that they’re bad songs per se, but the blues-rock sound present on both of them is an unmistakably commercial move that clashes with the vibe of the rest of the album. Even so, this is an easily re-listenable album, great for solitary long drives and calm afternoons spent casually drinking. It’s Americana music with actual heft and soul behind it, and it’s a shame what a rare thing that is these days.