Out of context, this can sound mean, but Murfreesboro has needed such a new-textured arrangement of instrumental versatility in the same small package outside the standard electric-based bands inhabiting the music scene for the past few years. In the context of listening to the nine-month-old Nashville band, Honey Locust’s, debut EP, Fear is a Feeling, the opinion can be understood that one or two of our recent groups have come close to or matched the now nationally popular and sought after sound Honey Locust is offering. As the quintet holds high a plethora of acoustic stringed and keyed instruments destined for virtuosity and already achieving a full and grown sound by mixing a young Steph Merritt-esque vocalist with what can be compared to the Decemberists sitting in on the Goat Rodeo Sessions for an afternoon, more than several people around Murfreesboro will be pleased with this EP, released out of Comfortable Constable Publishing on May 8 this year.
It’s just little five-track sampler of showing what Honey Locust is capable of, but the melodious chamber sound is more than satisfactory through to the final song with the members changing instruments every track to accomplish a different aspect of poppy New York hip-folk.
Beginning with a mandolin strum driving the first and title track, followed by the organ, bass drum, and violin filling, vocalists Jake Davis and Lizzie Connor harmonize Honey Locust’s exclamation of genuine ingenuity in a three and a half minute song. Following “Fear is a Feeling,” the guys lay it on accordion-thick for a waltz of a song calling in The Decemberist’s sound as the organ, picked banjo and simplistic drumming show their versatility before heading into track 3, “Walkin’ Shoes,” calling on The Goat Rodeo Sessions as a cello immediately plucks and bows listeners away to their comfort zone and shares hints of Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude” in the process just as the remaining members of Honey Locust come in plucking away viola, ukulele, banjo and a snowy drum beat in ¾ time, leaving no space unfilled while singing of going for a walk with a friend. Track 4, “Softer Someday,” can be considered the dramatic one of the bunch laying thick a ukulele strummed intro until the cello, accordion, mandolin, heavy crash and bass drum, with harmonies from Davis as Strummer, this time, and Connor as Neko Case as they watch someone sleep. The final and slowest, “Blood of the Bleak,” has their viola and mandolin keep pace.
It shouldn’t be lost in this description that each track gives a chance for individual members to take the spotlight but it’s prettily unnoticeable because of the seamlessness of the full sound.
Honey Locust has been touring to promote Fear is a Feeling this past month in the northern states, but are coming back to Nashville for the official release show with Cuddie Magic, May 11 at the High Watt and following that with a Grimey’s performance on May 18. Fear is a Feeling will only be available at shows until the release party. Their touring schedule can be found at honeylocustmusic.com.