Tommy McCord – vocals, guitar, mandolin, bass, keys, arrangements, recording/mixing 

Danielle Gyger – vocals, fiddle
Adam Aymor – pedal steel guitar
Timmy Rodriguez – vocals, bass, guitar, banjo, keys

Dan O’Brien – vocals, guitar, bass, keys, harmonica

Joel Kuiper – drums, percussion 

May 31st sees Wild Honey Collective release their new album, which we review here. As background, the third full-length in 3 1/2 years from The Wild Honey Collective finds the now-sextet of mid-Michigan musicians carrying the traditional-meets-rock-and-psychedelia template of The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, and Jerry Garcia into 2024.  Since its 2020 inception as a “quarantine project,” “Wild Honey” has become a hard touring and recording operation encompassing a catalog of bluegrass standards, pedal steel freakouts, close harmony singing, and a punk rock road warrior’s reverence for traditional American music. 

Volume 3 (produced by the band in a wide variety of home and makeshift studio environments) finds the group perfecting their mix of time-honored and modern music with 6 band originals, 4 traditional songs, and two standards from two different eras of Country Rock, complete with a Gene Clark classic and a Chris Paddock tune made famous by Deer Tick

With all this in mind, here comes the review.

“Sideways Headless” represented my introduction to the album and the band. I don’t really know what I expected, but I was met with a folk style track, plenty of vocal harmony, and a country style groove in the mix.

“Tried So Hard” is a brighter track that moves into upbeat harmony, with an easy listening rhythm. It’s a very likeable track, and you find yourself smiling and tapping your foot. 
“Goodbye Forever” slows things down a bit, some wistful guitar and steady drum beats take us into a dreamy night where the lone lantern lights up the last bar that’s open. This is a gentle, swaying track.
“Bear” sees us take a bath in Lake Superior! It’s a fun song, one with a great little chorus and some solid musical patterns.

“Lily” was one I instantly liked as soon as I heard the first melody. This soulful number resonates of the sea and waves. It has a great rhythm section and would surely attract radio play on ‘Smooth Radio.’ I could listen to this one a few times, yes, a big thumbs up.
“Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” is a traditional track given a new spin. It presents a really traditional country sound with a fast drum sound. I think this one would go great in a live country festival, it is just asking to hit the live stage. The guys give it a makeover and the instrumental side of things is a pleasure.
“These Old Shoes” was a little unexpected at the start, then it settled into a groove. It’s a railroad song, with an old twang given a polish. It rattles along and acts as a bridge on the latter stage of the album.
“Outer Space” is a guitar picking track, gentle acoustic style with a simple lyric and harmony. Think of the guy in the terrace gently picking those strings, and then some friends calling by and helping with the chorus!
“Dreadful Wind and Rain” introduces the first of a couple of traditional tracks. It brings in a chance for a very late night radio friendly song, with more than a touch of old narrative storytelling, the song takes us into a dreamy older rhythm and music.
“Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes” is the second of the traditional tracks played back-to-back. It is a pleasing foot tapper, a song for those balmy rustic nights.

“Burning Daylight” returns to the sunset, a warm night and a lonely story. I sipped my apple juice and relaxed. It’s one of those dreamy little tracks to listen to at the end of day.

“Snake River Reel” closes the album with an upbeat traditional reel. Its a quick little moment of mad abandon! 

As for the album as a whole, these guys provide a storytelling spread with some pleasing originals mixing in with the traditional tracks that have been given a new life. That’s the joy of folk, the return to the classics, and the element of the past mixing with the present. There’s a line in Shakespeare’s “Winters Tale” that says ‘a sad tale is best for winter,’ and I think a song with a smile is best for summer. This is an album that can provide a smile.

Standout tracks: “Lily” and “Sideways Helpless.”


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By Lorraine Foley