Abby Zotz – Local Honey

It is no surprise Abby Zotz’s first solo collection Local Honey is about personal journeys, interpersonal relationships, and how those things take on different trajectories in our lives and sometimes collide.

She chooses traditional music as her vehicle, no real surprise for a performer and writer whose career to date is stepped in such fare, but her vision of traditional music for this album encompasses a much larger frame than merely here voice and an acoustic guitar. As a result, Local Honey comes off as an album that’s not afraid to take some subtle chances along the way and those moments pay off handsomely for listeners.

Stability, however, is one of the more traditionally minded songs on the release and chooses a time tested theme for its subject matter. It stands apart, however, thanks to Zotz’s ability to recast the material in turns of language all her own and the phrasing she brings to bear goes a long way towards helping capture her own style.

Big Hope is a personal favorite on the release and its lightly peddled retro rock vibe is a big reason why. These facets of the performance come from the bluesy edge of electric guitar cutting through the song’s laid back mix, muscular drumming, and an outstanding organ guest spot that rounds out the sound in a big way. This will likely be a highlight of Zotz’s live set for some time to come.

Peace Sweet Peace keeps the album’s fiery opening burning hot with a spectacularly relaxed stylistic exercise that’s a kind of boppy-gospel, sprightly and beaming with positivity. Her voice is a minor miracle here as well – inviting, filled with tonal depth, she envelops the recording with a definite presence that’s entertaining and reassuring at the same time.

One of the most evocative pieces of songwriting on Local Honey is the deeply reflective Pirouette and Zotz matches it with an appropriately considered singing performance.

The arrangement takes some attention grabbing turns along the way further bolstering its appeal, but the later Be Here Now relies more on plain-spoken simplicity to communicate with listeners. It’s a deft performance as a writer, however, and one of her best moments as a lyricist you’ll hear from Local Honey.

Sea Change has a different musical flavor than any of the preceding or following tracks thanks to its percussion and Zotz likewise responds with a very different vocal melody that, nonetheless, makes use of the same essential strengths.

All Through the Night has the feeling of a classical piano ballad and its swirling melodic lines host enough variation to sustain any listener. The last song on Local Honey, You’ll Never Know bears a sly smile throughout the song, but it’s a bluesy affectation in the sense the listener sounds like their smiling to keep from crying. The feeling is never stressed too hard, however, and you get every sense Zotz is closing the album on a wistful, yet consistent, note.

Local Honey is a full throated success and shows the lessons Abby Zotz has learned along the way  makes her a better musical artist than we could have ever anticipated.

If you enjoyed a sneak peak at Local Honey, visit the official website for Abby Zotz by clicking here. Give her a like on Facebook by clicking here.

Eric Jarvis

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