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(48:43, ‘Gifted Amateur Recordings’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Vivoras D'oro 2:29 2. Bazaar 2:56 3. Mystery of the Plain 2:53 4. On the Beach 2:05 5. And the Sea Will Give Up Its Dead 4:56 6. She Guides Us Towards the Sun 2:17 7. The Longest Week 3:20 8. Unseen Girl 3:15 9. The Magician's Wife 2:30 10. Farewell for Now 2:17 11. White Mountain 3:35 12. Baobab 4:42 13. Last Wave 3:39 14. Late in the Day 4:45 15. Driftwood 3:04 LINEUP: James Sidlo – guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, cittern, glissentar Ross Marlow – keyboards; vocals; percussion Dan Telez – guitars Terry Orff – bass Robert Potter – drums With: Ertan Torgul - violin Morgen Johnson - cello Stephanie Key - clarinet David Villarreal - trumpet Frank Villarreal - saxophone &: A few more musicians and singers
Prolusion. The US band HONEY BARBARA appears to have been around in one form or another for the better part of 25 years, with "feedlotloophole" from 1993 the earliest album of theirs I can find information about. "Wave Grass" is their third and most recent production, and was released in the early summer of 2015 through Gifted Amateur Recordings, which is probably the band's own label.
Analysis. Honey Barbara appears to be one of those bands that doesn't explore progressive rock as such, but rather explore musical landscapes with ties to progressive rock in terms of style, and with a certain amount of progressive spirit to their material that often finds favor among fans of progressive rock. As far as genre placement goes, this combo appears mostly as a psychedelic rock band with a foundation in the vintage-oriented part of the genre. The first two tracks on the album take us on a time trip back to the late ‘60s somewhere, with material that blends aspects of psychedelic rock of the more mainstream oriented kind with elements from folk music. Material from the day and age of “Make love, not war” complete with a certain charm of naivety. The band does move ever so slightly away from these landscapes as the album unfolds, but the two opening pieces come across as making a statement of intent on some level or another. One might argue that they exemplify the core foundation from which the band operate out from, at least on this recording. Honey Barbara does venture outside of those initial confines fairly soon. The key elements remain, with plucked instrument details sustaining a folk music orientation and floating, shimmering instrument details from keyboards, violin and electric guitar ensuring a psychedelic haze, being present either on a subtle or more firm level. On occasion with sleepy style lead vocals maintaining that presence in place of instruments, while in other places the vocals are used to emphasize that aspect. In addition some songs have something more of a country or Americana aspect present in a careful manner, in the style of garage rock, where dark toned guitar riffs are given a prominent role in one of the songs, with rhythm details with a nod and a wink towards jazz another element that appears here and there. My impression is that this is first and foremost a charming production. The songs are kept short and sweet, rarely outstaying their welcome or exploring the various themes and arrangements for too long. This isn't a production that will come across as markedly challenging or hard to grasp on any higher level, but the blend of styles and instruments does make it one that will be difficult to pinpoint to any exact subgenre of music, adventurous music on that level, and as such, one with a progressive spirit, even if the compositions as such may not adhere strictly to progressive rock principles and idioms.
Conclusion. This mostly instrumental album from Honey Barbara is one that, in my view, first and foremost will have its appeal among fans of psychedelic rock. The inclusion of folk music elements and some jazz-oriented details will possibly expand the interest sphere to also include progressive rock fans. Still, a taste for psychedelic rock is merited, and those fond of the late ‘60s variety of the style in particular appear to be a key audience for this band and this album.
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