July 25, 2005

Frank Black Goes Nashville with Honeycomb

Honeycomb, Frank Black's first solo album since 1996's The Cult of Ray, takes any preconceived notions of the legendary Pixies founder's indie and punk leanings, and turns them upside down. Black has gone the way of Dylan on Blonde on Blonde, seamlessly blending his native rock with blues, soul, folk and country.

The album flows like honey as the title suggests, though it includes a diverse, genre-bending group of tracks, ranging from modern alt-country flair to 50's rock with a cover of "Song of the Shrimp," originally performed by Elvis in the film Girls, Girls, Girls. Black's soulful gritty voice is at home laid over twangy guitars, and seems as though it always belonged there. "I Burn Today" is a honkeytonk jazz celebration, echoing with its lyrics the sentiments evoked by the music: "hold my heartstrings and have yourself a strum." The title track, "Honeycomb," is a stellar combination of near-falsetto vocals, light steel guitar picking, and soft piano.

Black recorded Honeycomb over a four-day period in Nashville, Tenn., with some of the most talented players in music, among them Steve Cropper, Buddy Miller, Reggie Young, and Spooner Oldham. Although the recording session was short, this album has been in the works for years, ever since Black heard Dylan's revolutionary 1966 album. "It just stuck with me, and for years," said Black, "I always wanted to do my own sort of version, Black on Blonde." And like Dylan, he has done no less than revolutionize folk and country music with his quiet, cathartic artistry. Frankly, it is enough to bring a country music cynic back to the wonder that is Nashville.

Click here to buy Honeycomb.