Francine Honey – To Be Continued…

The new eleven song studio release from Ontario’s Francine Honey, To Be Continued…, is full of the same stories of wisdom hard won, loss, and heartache characterizing her songwriting up to this point, but likewise builds on the artistic riches heard with her previous releases with particularly thoughtful and well constructed arrangements moving with their own inner dramatic tide.

Nothing is ever belabored or overwrought in these songs – instead, they are layered invocations of lives, maybe not always well, but nonetheless thoroughly lived. They are, likewise, suffused with themes of community and hopefulness that, despite the personal travails they often depict, often look towards a better tomorrow despite the issue of the day.

Snowflakes On My Eyelashes” is a stunning way to begin the release. The sheer poetic shine of the song’s title extends itself towards the accompanying verses and the band delivers a performative primer, of sorts, on how to make this sort of material come alive without ever overplaying your hand. The languid guitar melody resolves itself in a satisfying way while the haunting echo of violin provides another lyrical voice for the song.

The guitar playing is especially strong for the album’s second track “Stay”, but the drumming for this release begins to announce itself as a key ingredient in its success. It is understated, yet you get the feeling listening to each of the album’s eleven songs that it is an element holding everything together.

There’s a similar layering of musical detail at work during the title song, but the thing standing out the most for me during this performance is the combination of Honey’s voice and lyric. It isn’t the first time on the album that she takes up a potentially melodramatic subject and makes true pathos from it and the aforementioned factors are the driving engine helping these moments succeed.

There’s light piano and some gritty slide guitar amping up the blues influence over the song “Honey” and Honey’s vocal leans into these influences without ever playing them for laughs; nevertheless, “Honey” may be a tune of longing, but it’s nonetheless adorned with a light touch absent from some of the album’s more obviously serious tunes.

The single “Shacked-Up Sweetie” continues invoking her blues influences and has seen release alongside a music video that amplifies its story and emotion. The boisterous country blues rock of the arrangement is a welcome shift in gears from the album’s earlier moody numbers, but it nevertheless doesn’t gloss over Honey’s songwriting talents despite the obviously lighter touch at work. The video doesn’t try remaking the wheel, but it is a professionally filmed and completely polished work reinforcing the song’s strengths.

She conjures a bit of her Canadian upbringing in the song “Open Road” and it’s a testament to how she can take well-worn imagery and put it to her own uses, sparkling with her own turn of phrase. The chorus has a nicely striding quality, never pushing too hard, and the mix of electric and acoustic guitar heard throughout the album is especially effective with this song.

Mamas Take Bad Dreams Away” reminds me some of the title song and has a dramatic construction that brings you into its storytelling. Her tender vocal further emphasizes the song’s loving spirit.

Francine Honey covers an astonishing emotional range with her third album and there’s no sign of her slowing down. To Be Continued… doesn’t content itself with a single emotional slant; instead, Honey takes on a number of voices through the release and each one resonates with listeners in a deep, meaningful way.

If you enjoyed a taste of Francine Honey’s To Be Continued…, check out her official website by clicking here & give her a like on Facebook by clicking here.

Eric Jarvis

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