After four excellent albums in which the band's membership was given equal billing, Asheville, N.C.'s Honeycutters opt to give lead singer Amanda Anne Platt a justly deserved promotion and elevate her to the head of the pack. Platt insists the change on the marquee is well warranted, suggesting that friends and fans have encouraged her to seize the spotlight, a move she now feels comfortable enough to make.
Presumably the rest of the outfit - Matt Smith (pedal steel and Stratocaster), Rick Cooper (bass), Josh Milligan (drums and harmony vocals), and Evan Martin (keys and Telecaster) - support the decision, because just like before, their playing is supple and sublime, a perfect foundation for Platt's assured, dry-eyed delivery. Her's is a style that encompasses the very essence of a classic country/folk tradition. A singer in the Emmylou Harris/Patty Griffin/Shawn Colvin mode, she's able to evoke a high lonesome sound that echoes from the far corners of Appalachia and the Great Plains, even while keeping matters in a contemporary context. Whether it's the sweetness and sincerity of songs like "Long Ride" and "Learning How To Love Him" or the deliberative and assertive intent that accompanies "Diamond in the Rough," "Brand New Start" and "The Good Guys (Dick Tracy)," Platt and company deliver the music with an assurance that stays true to both their tenderness and tenacity.
If, in fact "Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters" marks a new beginning in terms of the band's branding, then suffice it to say it also marks a continuation of a promising trajectory that's unfolded since early on. This is a band that effectively blends its passion with a purpose, giving them an authenticity that's shared equally among all.