For Kyle Craft’s third long-player he has enlisted a full backing band named Showboat Honey with the album baring the same name suggesting this could be the start of an ‘era’ for Kyle Craft. ‘Showboat Honey’ is released on the infamous Sub Pop Records but doesn’t bare the trademark guitar grunge sound of the label but instead is a dazzling of glam-pop delights. ‘Showboat Honey’ is not the album you thought you needed in your life but sometimes your ears don’t know what’s best for them.
“Showboat Honey is the musical equivalent of an antique refurbishment, a fresh shine and new accessories on a classic model.”
Over the past three albums Kyle Craft has gone from solo musician recording the full band himself on his laptop to recruiting a backing back for his sophomore effort and now on his third release Kyle takes things one step further recruiting Showboat Honey, a backing band worthy of Kyle’s vagabond genius. As the final treasure to the albums song writing and performance standards is the production which perfectly complements Kyle Craft & Showboat Honey’s reinventive take on a genre predominantly left in the 70s. Although glam is still being played by some of the bands of this era their work often feels tired and unable to grow with the decades losing their credibility; credibility has also hampered newcomers to the genre such as The Darkness and other bands whose work has often felt spoof. Showboat Honey is the musical equivalent of an antique refurbishment, a fresh shine and new accessories on a classic model.
“With a simple but bold guitar riff 2 Ugly 4 NY is a call to arms, a statement of intent; an intent that we love.”
Our first glimpse of Showboat Honey was single 2 Ugly 4 NY spelt in the manner of a grandad texting, one could easily question whether this really is the work of Marc Bolan. With a simple but bold guitar riff 2 Ugly 4 NY is a call to arms, a statement of intent; an intent that we love.
Back to Showboat Honey as an album, the album opens with the second single Broken Mirror Pose, again self-deprecating in title but instrumentally very different with the piano leading this number; Broken Mirror Pose is a less obvious single choice but as an album track its chugging piano and bass complimentary riff encourages the listener to be drawn into it’s hypnotic sound. The track builds with the guitar work effortlessly accenting Kyle Craft’s vocal line adding the correct emphasis on a track that could have easily become repetitive; sparkles like this throughout the album show its production delights.
“Throughout Showboat Honey Kyle and band display an impossibly wide array of genre subtleties that makes it an album that doesn’t lose its appeal after multiple listens.”
Next O! Lucky Hand opens with a riff that bares no exact reference point to the wild west, but it seems Kyle was channelling his inner western evidenced by an indescribable quality to its sound and later Kyle sings “shut your cowboy mouth”. Throughout Showboat Honey Kyle and band display an impossibly wide array of genre subtleties that makes it an album that doesn’t lose its appeal after multiple listens. In O! Lucky Hand’s verses the sparse riff leaves space for the listener to fully appreciate craftmanship on the drums in both playing and production, whereas 70’s glam often featured a boomy drum sound Showboat Honey features a deadened sound emulating the bygone era whilst using tightened tuning more reminiscent of current trends.
“Deathwish Blue is perfection, one of the moments when a performer cannot be faulted in anyway.”
Final single Deathwish Blue is the perfect piano ballad for drinking whiskey on the rocks at 3am, it’s a tragedy that we’ll never get to experience it in the smokiest of dive bars; never did the smoking ban seem so criminal. Deathwish Blue is perfection, one of the moments when a performer cannot be faulted in any way; Deathwish Blue will remain in Kyle Craft’s live sets for the rest of his career.
After a brief piano interval Buzzkill Caterwaul bounces into life which minus the piano would fit on many pop-rock albums right now but piano is Showboat Honey’s knockout punch, the punch that keeps us getting up for more. Showboat Honey continues in in pop-rock vein with Sunday Driver this time focusing more on full-bodied lead guitar to compliment the lesser-heard acoustic guitar which leads Sunday Driver.
Showboat Honey is an album that keeps giving right till the very last note, She’s Lily Riptide wouldn’t be put out of place on a remasters compilation with Elton John, T Rex and other greats, incognito no one would realise its age. Showboat Honey’s mimicking of the greats is its strength, but others may find otherwise claiming it unoriginal; music is for discussion, we love it. What’s your take?