Album Review – The Honeycutters’ ‘Me Oh My’

The Honeycutters are a roots country band from Asheville, North Carolina. Tal Taylor plays the mandolin, Rick Cooper the bass, Josh Milligan plays the drums for the band, and Matt Smith offers his skills on the pedal steel, electric guitars and a dobro. But the driving force of The Honeycutters is founder, primary songwriter, and singer Amanda Platt. She brought the band together in 2007 and led the way for the band through two albums. On this third album, released by in April, Platt also took the production reigns, taking full control of the creative direction of Me Oh My.

Platt says, “The new album is the one I’m most proud of to date…I took much more of a driver’s seat in it’s making, and the process has forced me to do a lot of growing up… I feel like I’ve really found my voice.” She worked alongside assistant producer and engineer Jon Ashley to deliver the 14 tracks found on album. The country roots are firm, with the ring of the pedal steel and the pluck of the mandolin noticeably behind Platt’s vocal delivery on nearly every track.

Me Oh My kicks off with a western swing in “Jukebox.” Here we find two down-on-their-luck people alone in the bar. Platt provides first person narration of asking the lonely man to dance with her. The moving production inspires the listener to dance along and is a great choice for an album opener. “All You Ever” finds a prideful man being knocked down a few pegs. This conceited fellow wants all eyes on him in the public, but in the privacy of his home, he’s been humbled. He doesn’t know how to cope with not being the center of attention.

The title track is a commentary of the modern woman. Unlike in our parents and grandparents’ age, women have children out-of-wedlock. They don’t all settle down for marriage. “Me Oh My” suggests the central character may be acting out in the wake of losing a child. It’s a hard-hitting song with honest lyrics, and that’s how Platt likes to write. “Me Oh My” is one of my favorite songs from the album. “Edge of the Frame” deals with a famous “friend” who simply uses people as he or she sees fit. Platt sings in the chorus, “Why you make a beggar out of your best friend? You pull me in and you push me away, ’til I’m standing on the edge, standing on the edge of the frame.

The Honeycutters touch on marital affairs in “Ain’t it The Truth.” Here, Platt sings of a woman in small town where everyone, including said woman, knows her husband is unfaithful. Judgments from the townsfolk are passed because this woman stays with her husband despite his actions. “Carolina” is a love story involving a rambling man. The wanderlust and call for the road is too much for him to stay, and she holds on, despite knowing how hopeless her love is. The theme of love continues on the ballad “Texas ’81.” This is a husband who travels frequently and keeps coming back. Together, they reminisce on their beginning and she yearns for him to stay, for their moments together to not end before he has to leave again. It’s a heartbreaking song punctuated by a great production that captures the passion and hope described in the lyrics.

“Little Bird” carries a theme similar to “Jukebox.” The song describes two people who are flawed and lonely, and that vulnerability allows them to let their guard down to the other person, just for the night. The two are scared of the morning, broken and hiding in the darkness. “Not That Simple” is another song exploring the topic of a cheating husband. In this case, the woman is hurt that he won’t love her, and that she’s fallen for someone who can’t love her. She tries to cope but simply shies away from everything until she simply can’t cry about it any longer. It’s a song about coming to terms and accepting his lies as a truth in her life.

With all the cheating and heartbreak songs, The Honeycutters offer up a song with a positive take on love. “Wedding Song” is about a bride thanking her husband for his love. When they met she was broken and hurt. Through his love and passion for her, he’s helped rebuild that heart and shown her happiness again. “Wedding Song” is a nice, bluegrass inspired love song. The following song, though, finds a marriage falling apart. “Hearts of Men” deals with a father and a husband who’s unhappy with this life. The sacrifices he made to build his family cause him angst. He desires some freedom and independence from his responsibilities, and his children simply want their father back.

“I’ll Be Lovin’ You” is a song of one lover’s encouraging. Life has brought them down and he’s not handling it well. She’s devoted to keep on loving him while he feels like he can’t love himself. At almost six minutes long, “I’ll Be Lovin’ You” has an excellent extended musical outro. “Lucky” finds a girl who continually makes mistakes in the relationship. However, her husband continues to forgive her time and time again, and she ponders how she got so lucky. The album ends with the love song “A Life For You.” It’s not your typical love song, as we see a Bonnie and Clyde type couple that are on the run from the cops. The woman, knowing that her husband is a better person than she, encourages him to save himself. She’s continually dreamed of a better life for him, and wants him to live that out. It’s a touching song that hits you hard. You really just have to hear it for yourself.

Overall, Me Oh My, is a pleasant album. The country rooted production and bluegrass styles in some of the songs are great. Amanda Platt’s lyrics are honest and deep, and she provides a good vocal delivery. My only complaints with the album are that the length of 14 songs is a little much, especially since none of the songs drift above a mid-tempo beat. Me Oh My drags a bit with the high song total. However, Platt’s sharp story telling and production do help make up for the drag, as the last couple songs do make the wait worth it. This is an album country fans missing the roots will love.

Grade: 8/10

Album Review – Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Remedy”

One of the most reliably great folks-roots bands in America is back with another album. Old Crow Medicine Show of course gained a lot of popularity a few years ago when Darius Rucker decided to cover one of their top songs, “Wagon Wheel.” It was an unfinished song by Bob Dylan that OCMS took and made into one of the best folk songs of the last decade. Rucker’s bastardized version of the song was hugely popular and has allowed him to cruise on this song alone for the past few years. Despite having to hear this sub par version of the song on the radio for over a year, one of the great things that came out of it was it brought awareness to Old Crow Medicine Show, including yours truly’s attention. Today I look at their new album Remedy.

The album starts off with the song “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer.” I don’t think I have to tell you what it’s about because I think you can tell by just looking at the title. If you remember this is the second song of the year about Brushy Mountain penitentiary, as Matt Woods had a song and his new album was titled “With Love From Brushy Mountain.”  And once again it’s another great song about the place, with this one not being as dark themed as the first one. Really this song and entire album is the opposite of Woods’ album, as Remedy is overall positive and upbeat. OCMS’s signature folksy and Americana sound is certainly present. The second song on the album is “8 Dogs 8 Banjos,” by far the fastest country song I’ve heard this year. What’s amazing is how great the control of the band’s instrumentation is despite the fast pace of the song. This is a great shit-kicker that you can just sit back and enjoy.

“Sweet Amarillo” is the best song on Remedy and could be the “Wagon Wheel” of the album. It’s yet another Bob Dylan penned song, showing once again the great writing prowess of Mr. Dylan. It’s got a catchy melody with well-done instrumentation. “Sweet Amarillo” has Country Perspective Song of the Year candidate written all over it. I just hope Rucker or no other pop country artist tries to cover it. This song is followed by “Mean Enough World,” which is the second best song on the album. It’s about how mean the world is and how everyone needs to quit with their negative actions and just get along. Great message about how everyone needs to strive for peace and happiness. OCMS proves you don’t have to write about heartbreak all the time to make great country songs. This song just brings a smile to my face.

OCMS slows it down for the first time on the album with “Dearly Departed Friend,” which is a heartfelt song about losing a close friend. Think of it as a deeper, more country and less laundry list version of Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck.” Don’t get me wrong I liked that song too, but this song feels more sentimental and personal. And the instrumentation is better. “Firewater” is a drinking song to listen to after having a long day. The term “firewater” of course if referring to moonshine. This is probably one of my favorite drinking songs this year because it’s not overtly negative and dark like other drinking songs I’ve heard. As it says in the song, “the firewater is the only thing that can put out the flame.” “Brave Boys” is another breakneck paced, toe tapping song.

The ninth song on the album, “Doc’s Day,” is a light-hearted song about an old man named Doc who heard the band playing and suggested they start to play music like in his days. As the song says in a great line, “If you wanna rock listen to Doc/If you want the girls you better pick like Merle.” Why can’t every band be as fun as Old Crow Medicine Show? “O Cumberland River” is a song you listen to while lazily floating down a river and enjoying a nice summer day. Bro country artists need to take notes with this song because this is how you write a song about a river. “Tennessee Bound” is an upbeat song about heading to Tennessee of course.

“Shit Creek” keeps the tempo up. It’s about losing a woman and as a result the man “ain’t got a paddle going up shit creek.” Once again OCMS makes a heartbreak song fun somehow. The fiddles are front and center in this song, which is just so refreshing because you hardly ever hear fiddles featured prominently in songs. The penultimate song “Sweet Home” is another feel good song. The album closes out with “The Warden,” which asks some intriguing questions about the life of being a warden in a prison. “How does the warden sleep at night”? “Does his conscious burn”? “Is he a prisoner too”? It’s a really clever song because no one ever thinks about what it’s like to be a warden and how they have to hold the keys to a person’s freedom. It has to weigh on their minds to work in such an environment where you have to look into hopeless faces all day. Well done on Old Crow Medicine Show’s part to sing about something unique and morally gripping.

Remedy has everything you want in an album. There’s a song everyone can listen to and connect with. Or just listen to and have a good time. Without a doubt, this is one of the top candidates for Country Perspective’s Album of the Year.

Grade: 10/10

To listen to the entire album, click here.