Outside the Lines: HoneyHoney
by: Dallas Terry
Current Location: California
Most Recent Release: Billy Jack (2011) – Lost Highway Records
For Fans of: Shovels & Rope, Holly Williams, Ryan Bingham
The Drop: “Glad I’ve Done What I Did”
Although Americana duo Shovels & Rope has seen a great amount of recent success, many music critics and various Americana aficionados have somehow failed to recognize the equally talented and similarly grouped duo, Honeyhoney.
So why hasn’t Honeyhoney garnered as much fame and critical success? Honeyhoney is just as talented, witty, unique, and powerful as their former mentioned contemporaries. Although both Honeyhoney and Shovels & Rope are composed of a guy/girl duo, and although both are lumped into the same blanket-genre known as Americana, Honeyhoney manages to be vastly different in style and sound in comparison to their contemporary, and should garner just as much attention.
Singer/multi-instrumentalist Suzanne Santo sings with a soulful voice very reminiscent of the glamorous-but-talented Grace Potter. Honeyhoney’s folk-rock sound inherently places importance on the expert musicianship of various acoustic instruments like acoustic guitars, fiddles, and banjos. Aside from her soulful, jazzy delivery, Santo masters all of the challenging demands of folk music, often times playing fiddle or banjo while singing (it should be noted that playing fiddle while singing lead vocals cannot be the easiest thing to do).
Honeyhoney’s other half, guitarist/drummer Ben Jaffe, is equally as important to the unique sound of the band. Jaffe also often juggles the difficult task of doing two complicated acts at once, many times playing guitar and drumming at the same time, Lincoln Durham-style. Along with Jaffe’s talented musicianship, he also sings harmony vocals on almost every song, a key component to the full sound of the band.
Honeyhoney’s lyrics are honest, sincere, and poetic, often covering complicated feelings of love, loathing, loss, and lust. Honeyhoney’s lyrical abilities shine on their most recent studio album Billy Jack. The duo has the rare ability to be extremely eclectic while still creating a comprehensive sound that carries song-to-song throughout the whole album. Songs will range from swinging dancehall country ballads, to in-your-face stories of debauchery. At one point you’ll swear you’re listening to Gillian Welch or Holly Williams, and at the next you’ll think you just turned on a White Stripes record, all while still sounding exactly like Honeyhoney.
The Honeyhoney sound, however, does not end in the studio. Opening for Ryan Bingham on his most recent tour supporting his highly electric and aggressive newest album Tomorrowland, Honeyhoney has proven that they can hang with the toughest roots-rock that Bingham has to offer. Honeyhoney’s live sound often takes a similar path as Bingham, going from acoustic-led tender folk songs to aggressive electric rock ‘n’ roll a la The Black Keys. Honeyhoney’s best love song “Yours to Bare” will make you cry, and their most defiant song “Thin Line” will make you want to punch whoever’s standing next to you in the face.
Honeyhoney’s best trait, however, is their genuine love and devotion for the music that they play. The sincerity of their music bleeds out of each note they play or sing. To supplement their sincerity, the duo emits feelings of pure joy and happiness that can be seen on their faces throughout their entire set. Honeyhoney is one the most humble bands around today. They are talented, unique, and invaluable to the Americana scene.