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Honey And The Bear Honey And The Bear
Album: Made In The Aker
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 11

Firmly grounded in their Suffolk heritage MADE IN THE AKER with its rich arrangements and gorgeous playing, burnished by Graham Coe’s production, is Honey And The Bear’s debut album. Following on from a pair of Eps in 2017 the augmented duo have crafted a lush full bodied sound that is a delight to listen to. ‘Dark Heart’, opens with distant voices, a beautiful guitar motif and the stunning singing of Lucy Hart. Honey & The Bear set out their stall, with its confident acoustic music early on, but so good is the first song you are convinced you have heard it before.

The early bright acoustic music builds with atmospherics, fiddle, Whistles and some lively percussion into a swirling intoxicating conclusion. ‘The Ferry’ features the voices of Lucy and Jon Hart and again the chorus on this Celtic folk delight is such an earworm that you are sure you have heard this many times before. Again too, and indeed through the whole album, the playing by Toby Shaer, Evan Carson, Archie Churchill-Moss, Graham Coe and Ciaran Algar, adding light and dark is just stunning. ‘Around The World’, inspired by Dame Ellen McArthur’s solo voyage, is a more intimate affair, swelling on the choruses. Against intimate or lush accompaniment Lucy Hart has a voice that makes you stop and listen. ‘Margaret Catchpole’  has the big sound swagger of a 70s Steeleye Span track. The huge chord that opens the track, those big drum splashes and the tempo nod to classic 70s Folk Rock, maybe its not just me then who hears a touch of ‘Thomas The Rhymer’ in the chorus. Superb vocals too from both Jon and Lucy. Lucy’s grandfather planted his wife’s name in daffodils, marking an enduring love. ‘Springtime Girl’, a delightful dance of a song celebrates that life long live. It isn’t all sweetness and light, the guitar like instrument that runs through ‘Wrist Burner’, a song about living in the moment, is hypnotic and slightly dark, like some kind of late night ritualistic fireside dance.

Dark too and brooding is ‘One More Pour’ with Lucy considering the troubled history and present behind the bean so many of us enjoy everyday. With a more stripped back arrangement and a bitter sweet lyric Lucy’s vocals just soar. Shimmering and impressionistic is ‘River Man’, as Jon and Lucy conjour up the power and majesty of water. Again the arrangement is a delight, sometimes soft and swirling, sometimes powerful with the driving Cello and percussion. Closing track ‘Tinker’ is an evocative final chapter, swirling Whistles and flutes, the duos twined voices and strummed strings recall a moment of isolation and immersion in nature.

Dexterously played with beautifully crafted arrangements around a perfect pairing of voices delivering personal fine songs this is a stunning album

Marc Higgins