With everyone on their feet to watch her march to the altar, we follow a blushing bride as she walks down the aisle in the first few melody-clad frames of the music video for “Shacked-up Sweetie,” the latest single from Francine Honey’s incredible new album To Be Continued…. Honey is in the background, dishing out lyrics with her trademark charm, taking in the love-saturated sight just as we are and breaking the fourth wall with her charismatic stare. As the priest reads from his bible, the rising tide of grooves becomes too potent a force for the bride and groom to repel, and they descend into dance, spurring on their entire wedding party to do the same. In more ways than one, the visuals in this music video bring the moody nuances within the instrumental portion of “Shacked-up Sweetie” to us with a stirring physical swing that is infectious from the moment that it touches down with all of its understated brute force. Francine Honey proves to be a master of expression both here and in all of the songs to be discovered in To Be Continued…, and you could definitely make the case for this being the most accessible Canadian country album of the year.
There’s an undeniable blues overtone to a lot of the songs that comprise this record, but it doesn’t overwhelm the country grit that makes the songs cohesively flow together as well as they do. “Stay” and “Honey” are two of the more blunt examples of this artist’s soulfulness being repurposed with a playful yet melancholic demeanor that beckons us back to the time of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. It should be said that even in more guitar-dominant tracks like “Open Road” and the folkish “I Wish,” Honey’s vocal track is garnering the lion’s share of our affections, as is the case in almost any song that boasts her chic singing at center stage. “Shacked-up Sweetie,” “Marilyn,” “To Be Continued” and the Beth Nielsen Chapman collaboration “Snowflakes on My Eyelashes” together could have made for a juggernaut of an EP, but in a legit act of generosity, Honey didn’t pack in a lot of useless filler between the four of them. To Be Continued… possesses a loveable sincerity that you don’t exactly find every day, and perhaps more importantly, is one record that is engaging from start to finish.
A must-listen for all country and folk music buffs who have been craving something fresh and original to brighten up their winter playlists, Francine Honey’s new album and the single/music video that has got critics from one side of North America to the other talking about it are worthwhile acquisitions for anyone who enjoys a swanky southern beat delivered by a no-nonsense northerner with a penchant for cultivating pure pastoral harmonies out of thin air. I was only somewhat familiar with Honey’s work prior to coming in contact with these recent transmissions, but you can bet that I’ll be keeping a close eye on all of her future work as it’s released. Hers is an all-natural talent that shouldn’t be ignored, and it occupies every sonic stitch of To Be Continued….