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Honey Barbara: Wave Grass

It's difficult to exactly pin down what Honey Barbara are; a collective of three, joined by two and augmented by ten. There are loops, hooks and acousticals all gently jostling to be seen and heard across a selection of cuts which also includes electrics and all manner of lesser spotted instruments. Now I say "loops", but these would appear to all be organically performed and more a case of gentle grooves found, refound and found once more both within and from song to song, a keen sense of "where did I hear that piece before?" all part of the journey.

Much of this shimmering foray is instrumental and yet a collection of guest vocalists also join and excuse themselves from the party, adding colour and intrigue to the gentle flow of sounds which come lolling and lapping to your ears. Whether through the upbeat 60s beats of "The Magician's Wife", or Eastern music box tick and whirr of "BAOBAN" this initially catchy conglomeration actually proves remarkably stand offish and challenging. You could describe it as art rock, but without the pretensions, progressive without the prog, or pop music without the choruses. Although none really bring you all that close to the reality of music which reaches its climactic conclusions in the most unfussy of circumstances. In many ways that lack of oomph leaves you more engaged by the whole journey, as the songs stroll past without the need for crescendo or bombast, and yet with no big pay off, the voyage through 15 tracks which all vary, but in similar ways, can lose appeal and interest. All too often the sudden, unexpected brush of vocals snaps the attention back into gear, the realisation that the admittedly beautiful strains of "Last Wave", or intricately percussive "Bazaar" have kept on, as your mind wandered off.

The performances are wonderful, a real sense that all involved are pulling many facets in the same direction for shared goals, aided by quite masterful arranging. And yet somehow it isn't quite enough to suggest that a fair proportion of Wave Grass wouldn't feel more fully rounded with visuals to bring the ideas together in a more memorable fashion.

It's difficult to exactly pin down what Honey Barbara are, and in the end that's maybe why an album of such craft and guile feels remote and off hand. The skill in putting the whole thing together is there for all to hear, however the motivation to not treat the results as the most loving and cared for background music is hard to find.

Track Listing
1. Vivoras D'oro
2. Bazaar
3. Mystery of the Plain
4. On the beach
5. And the Sea Will Give Up Its Dead
6. She Guides Us Towards the Sun
7. The Longest Week
8. Unseen Girl
9. The Magician's Wife
10. Farewell For Now
11. White Mountain
12. Baobab
13. Last Wave
14. Late In The Day
15. Driftwood

Added: October 9th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Honey Barbara at CD Baby
Hits: 1829
Language: english

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