Reviews

Locust Honey String BandLocust Honey String Band
Album: Never Let Me Cross Your Mind
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 14
Website: http://www.locusthoney.com

Getting a belated UK release ahead of their tour (it was released in the States in 2014), the all girl North Carolina bluegrass trio sees founder vocalists, fiddler Chloe Edmonstone and guitarist Meredith Watson joined by Hilary Hawke from Dubl Handi, sharing banjo duties with original member Ariel Dixon (neither are part of the tour, their place being filled by bassist John Miller) for another set of old school country and bluegrass, although this time there's three original numbers (there was just one on the debut) amid the covers and traditional.

Sharing nasally harmonies with Watson, it's one of Edmonstone's that kicks things off in rousing form with Hawke on banjo for 'When The Whiskey's Gone' before digging back into the past for the first of two Carter Family tunes, 'Righten That Wrong', Dixon on lead vocals and taking over guitar while Watson provides the dobro parts. The second comes later with the fiddle-led 'Lonesome Song' while another country legend, George Jones, is the source of the honky tonk crying in my beer waltzer 'Just One More'. Although Cecil Nunn's name may not be that familiar, 'I've Forgotten More Than You'll Know About Him', here given a faithful old-timey string band reading, should be better known, having been a country number one in 1953 for The Davis Sisters (and a constant in Skeeter Davis's repertoire throughout her career) as well as being covered by the likes of Dylan, Cash and even a duet between Elvis Costello and Tom Waits. It was also covered by Kitty Wells whose own 1953 hit, 'Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On', follows directly on, here given a more breezy bluegrass arrangement. The last of the covers ends the album, Watson handling the vocals and Dixon on banjo for a heady fiddle-driven ride through 20s prison number 'Columbus Stockade Blues'.

Returning to Edmonstone's original material, the drawled, edgy 'Horse Drawn Buggy', Watson again on dobro, is fair enough without being especially notable, but she fares better with the more uptempo bluegrass of 'How You Must've Felt'.

Which leaves the traditional tunes, three of which, 'Boogerman', 'Logan Country Blues' and 'McMichen's Breakdown' are rousing, dance-frenzied fiddle scraping instrumentals, the latter of which sounds like they recorded some step tapping too. Having been taken into custody by Nick Cave as a brooding bleak murder ballad, 'Henry Lee' is released back into the frisky Appalachians, complete with an unexpected brief shift of tempo midway, with the last of set being a hoe down romp through 'Four Cent Cotton' , feet, banjo and fiddle sparks flying with Andy Edmonstone laying down the string bass. The vibrant nature of the music means this is probably more effective live, with audiences stamping their feet, slapping thighs and whirling round the dance floor, but, clear away the table, cover up the budgie and throw a little straw on the floor, and there's no reason why you can't have the party at home.

Mike Davies