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Honey Barbara - 2020 - "Reveries"

(45:49; Gifted Amateur Recordings)


1. Theme for An Old World 1:25
2. Sun-Day 3:59
3. Angel of the Lowlands 3:01
4. Blue Sky Girl 2:13
5. In the Summer Sun 2:26
6. Garden Of Stars 3:21
7. Another Rung 2:03
8. Inkling Of 3:35
9. Juniper 2:36
10. If I Only Knew 2:39
11. High Dive 2:34
12. Crossing 2:12
13. Way It Is 3:03
14. Evening Subsides 2:52
15. Blackland Prairie 3:21
16. Soon as the Moon 4:20


Scott Potter - drums, percussion, xylophone
Don Stewart - percussion
Ross Marlow - bass, vocals, keyboards, percussion
James Sidlo - guitars, cittern, mandolin
Dan Tellez - guitars, keyboards
Terry Orff - bass
Liz Ruvalcaba - vocals
Noah Peterson - saxophone
Jessica Decuir - theremin
Tom Pember - effects
Gail McDonald-Saenz - vocals
Tonee Valle - cello
Steve - didgeridoo

Prolusion. US band HONEY BARBARA are one of those bands that are just about invisible on the internet, hence there's a limited amount of information available to properly present them. They have four albums to their name though, with their debut album appearing way back in 1993, a second album followed in 2001, their third one came in 2014 and at the end of the fall season of 2020 their most recent album appeared. "Reveries" is the name of this creation, and it was released on a label called Gifted Amateur Recordings, and I presume this is the band's own label.

Analysis. One of the types of music with the strongest ties to progressive rock, and central to the development of the genre, is psychedelic rock. Honey Barbara is a band with both feet well tucked inside a psychedelic rock universe, and in my opinion at least in a section of it that overlaps quite nicely into progressive rock at that. The music is retro-oriented too as far as that aspect comes, although the end result is probably a bit more contemporary. For many, and probably for more people than me, this is a production that will be as enthralling as it is confusing. This is a band that keeps their compositions short and sweet, but are still able to twist and turn their songs in quite a few directions from the start until they reach the finish line. Some of the hilarious cartoons made to warn about the dangers of swing way back when actually comes to mind when listening to this album, as immersing yourself into the landscapes conjured by Honey Barbara does something like that to your brain, while still keeping you mesmerized. 60's psychedelic rock and pop/rock is something of a cornerstone I guess, but applied to some expressive structures and arrangements that brings in quite a few additional details too. A slice of Americana there, some jazz-oriented details here, nervous post-rock tinged sound textures have their place alongside more careful instrument details with a nod in the direction of folk music and perhaps even world music. Mediterranean folk music included, as well as the hypnotic sounds of the Australian didgeridoo. Some Latin details in the rhythm department is a part of the totality as well. This is mainly uplifting music too, if not always joyful there's a light playfulness spread throughout this album, with spaced out and spaced in moments that have more of a grounded and Earthen feel to them, more different world associations than otherworldly associations if you like. And all along with a recurring trip back to the 1960's sometime as a recurring, grounding element. A special album by a special band that does explore some pathways not too downtrodden by others. Kind of like a band that took a sharp turn left at Woodstock and continued travelling into the unknown wilderness for the following 50 years.

Conclusion. Honey Barbara as of 2020 is a band as difficult to describe as they are challenging to outline a potential audience for. Expressive and eclectic psychedelic progressive rock is probably the best general description I can give this band, and music made with a retro feel, sound and atmosphere explored in a more contemporary inclusive and expressive tradition is probably my best guess at detailing it a bit further. And a CD well worth seeking out if this description strikes you as alluring.

Progmessor: January 2021
The Rating Room

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