Kelsea Burch and Matt Shea met back in 2012 while they were both living on a farm in Hawaii. Over time the two began to share stories with one another, stories which revolved around music. Oddly enough Burch is a vocalist trained in both classical and theater performance. Shea on the other hand is a self-taught experimental guitarist and vocalist. So of course this musical yin and yang joined forces despite their polar opposite musical upbringings and formed the indie folk duo the honeycreepers.
For how worlds apart their musical journeys may have begun, they seem to have met in the middle on their eponymous debut EP the honeycreepers. Throughout the album’s five songs one hears no caustic clashes of either influence or ego. In fact the pair complement one another quite nicely, not only musically but also as they trade off vocal responsibilities and harmonize together.
Burch is of course the driving vocal force of the band. Her vocals are big and powerful. But Shea’s echoes provide a much-needed dynamic, which keeps the songs grounded. This is very evident on the upbeat “Red Dirt People” where the pair’s vocals flit back and forth like a pair of sparrows chasing each other through the air. Shea’s funky-folk guitar riffs should also be noted here, as they recall the fast finger picked madness of the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers.
The honeycreepers is not all full-force finger picking and loudly belted vocals. “Lost Balloon” is a slow and heartbreaking lament in the vein of Patsy Cline. Burch’s vocals are here are restrained coos, which reverberate on long after they’ve left her lungs and Shea’s slow strums, along with additional bass and steel pedal guitar provided by Eric Lichter that rings out in the same sad arc.
The only thing with the honeycreepers is that at times it seems a bit too polished in the production department. This is of course not a jab at the producers themselves, for the production quality is excellent. It is just a suggestion that next time the honeycreepers record they should give the recording a bit more of a live feel.
These songs for the most part feel hindered by stopping points, when improvisations by both Shea and Burch could really take these songs to even more expansive places. They are both experimental and theatrically trained musicians, and I know that the best art comes from off the cuff. The honeycreepers have proved that they are extremely talented, but next time I hear them I want to hear that talent unleashed.
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