Francine Honey has traveled the world taking her music to audiences from the U.K. to continental Europe, but her beating heart is the icy lands of Ontario, Canada. The music of the American South, namely country and blues, shares space in her heart with that Ontario upbringing, but she doesn’t bring out that side of her musical character in a facile or overly reverential fashion. Instead, the eleven songs included on To Be Continued… bring those elements out in a natural fashion and always infused with a strong singer/songwriter sensibility far outside the purview of many of her peers and contemporaries. Honey has discovered a way to make these traditional elements serve her own unique aims.
Few of the album’s songs better illustrate that than the track “Snowflakes on My Eyelashes”. The delicate framework of the song allows the lyrics a chance to shine, but the single biggest factor in bringing her writing to life is Honey’s sensitively rendered vocal and the way she gets under the song’s “skin” and makes it ring out like performed poetry. She achieves a similar effect, though more grounded in reality, with the album’s title song. This has an arrangement you really can’t label – the light dollops of piano woven through the song are the central melodic vehicle instrumentally, but the bass and outside the box percussion likewise play prominent roles. “Honey”, however, finds the album swinging back to a more self consciously traditional sound, but the vocal is confidently steeped in the blues while the instrumental qualities of the track likewise navigate their way through the bluer side of the musical spectrum.
“Shacked-Up Sweetie” strikes a traditional note as well. The rollicking country rock tone taken by the band and songwriting finds an excellent interpreter in Honey because, above all else, she looks to make the song work rather than getting her voice over with listeners. It’s an under the radar, but nonetheless, crucial difference. The song has been released as a single from To Be Continued… along with a stellar music video that shows, if nothing else does, the level of commitment Honey has brought to this release. It perfectly captures the song’s freewheeling musical spirit.
“Mamas Take Bad Dreams Away” is another quasi-ballad of sorts and its picture of familial love is sure to tug on heart strings without inducing a smirk from its listeners. It’s another example of the vocal care Honey routinely devotes to the songs while the repetitive piano figure dominating the melody has a nice hook for listeners. “I Wish”, the album’s penultimate tune, is a track brimming over with wisdom and an elegiac perspective towards the past that won’t drag listeners down. The piano, assortment of guitar fills, and the gradual swell into the song’s chorus are among its highlights. To Be Considered…doesn’t rest on its laurels with the handful of slowly developing lyric showcases but, smartly, gives listeners a kick in the pants when needed. It’s another example of Francine Honey’s willingness to mix things up in a way that keeps things interesting for listeners.
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