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Francine Honey returns with her latest batch of spellbinding ballads, “To Be Continued”

Consummate country poet Francine Honey returns with her latest batch of spellbinding ballads, To Be Continued…, and from where this critic sits, Canadian country music simply doesn’t get much better than what this skillful songwriter has done in her new record’s eleven engaging songs. In the title track, we wander along a foggy path laid out by a mournful piano that leans heavily on a fading bassline. The rhythm is driven exclusively by Honey’s solemn singing, the texture generated from her fleeting harmonies alone. Both here and almost everywhere else we look in To Be Continued…, there is only us and Honey, in what is possibly the most surreally produced country LP of the last three years.

Honey has been getting a lot of press lately for her single “Shacked-up Sweetie” and its wedding-themed video, and in the context of the rest of the album it really fits in well with the mood of its adjoining tracks. It falls between “Honey” and the acerbic Appalachian grooves of “Space,” and in my opinion really helps to even out the somber attitude shared by the two songs. The video itself is pure unadulterated fun, centering on a wedding that turns into a dance party that silently symbolizes the narrative of the single better than any other visual concept possibly could have.

While I really dig what she did with the video for “Shacked-up Sweetie” from the perspective of a country music fan, there’s a whole lot more to be said about what it tells me as a professional critic. Though we see quite a bit of Honey throughout the different intersecting shots of the ceremony, she doesn’t hijack every frame with her contagious smile. She’s developed her sound a lot since her virgin trip to the studio, but more importantly, she hasn’t lost the humble sensibility that made her a star long before we ever heard her sing.

CD BABY: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/francinehoney3

The songs “Space,” “Snowflakes on My Eyelashes” (featuring no less than Beth Nielsen Chapman on backing vocals), “Open Road” and “Marilyn” vault between country/folk territory and more aggressive blues/rock rigidity, and to my delight, the hybridity isn’t limited to the band’s play alone. Honey uses every weapon at her disposal in To Be Continued… and assaults us with one viciously catchy melody after another, from the subtle title track all the way through to the Blood on the Tracks-style “Can’t Break Through to You.” She’s firing on all cylinders here, and making American rivals twice her age look like amateurs.

Canada has been enjoying a singer/songwriter renaissance since the mid-2010s that doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, and at this moment, Francine Honey is at the very forefront of the movement. No one is making country with the same refined, high definition tonality that she is, and what’s more is that she’s doing it all without turning to external elements that would stray her from an insular scene that is as much a part of her story as the reflective lyrics in To Be Continued… are. Her time is now, and she picked a fantastic period to ascend the hierarchy of a woefully misguided genre in need of a hero.

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/francinehoneysongs/

by Bethany Page

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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