Critics are going crazy for the new Francine Honey single “Stay,” and it’s not that hard to understand the hype when examining the music video for the song. This season, we’ve seen scores of artists going big with their videos and establishing a status quo that is marred by excess, pomp and surrealism of the cheapest assortment, and much to my delight, all of these negative attributes are missing from Honey’s “Stay.” In their place, we find a classy singer doing what she does better than most anyone else in her scene can, joining two likeminded musicians on stage and delivering what I think is the best ballad from To Be Continued… by a mile.
There’s so much warmth to the strings in this song, but they’ve got a bluesy, overdriven edge that keeps them from sounding stock. The beats aren’t intrusive on the vocal at all, but rather subtle and quiet in the master mix. With that said though, even at lower volumes, the rigid textures that the drums add to the rhythm are affective and well-rounded next to the sublimely smooth guitar parts. Honey is in the center of it all, singing up a storm and grooving like a seasoned pro who hasn’t been plagued with the jitters of an inexperienced rookie in over half a decade.
Her vocal is soft and eroticized via its placement in the master mix, and I think that it complements the tonality of the instruments better than anything else could have. There have been so many songs that I’ve reviewed this month that have had all of the right pieces on the instrumental side but fell short when it came to embedding the verses into the music, but that’s not a problem for Francine Honey here. She holds her own with these intimidating sonic waves, which is no easy task for even the most talented of performers.
If there’s one artist that serious Americana aficionados should be following this year, it is unquestionably Francine Honey, who is pulling out the big guns in her new music video and rebelling against the meager standards of a mainstream country sound that is anything but exciting these days. Her appreciation for the genre’s most appealing qualities is clear, but there’s a lot more to be said about her emboldened experimentalism in this track, which stands to bring her moniker a new level of respect from critics who have been hungry for a singer/songwriter that isn’t shy about trying something new every now and again.