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Local Honey

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Album Review

Some of pop music's most classic and enduring records — think Fleetwood Mac's Rumours or, more recently, Beck's Sea Change — have been good old-fashioned, miserable breakup albums. Local Honey, the debut from the General Store, essentially the moniker for British singer/songwriter Tam Johnstone, fits this mold perfectly. Johnstone, whose father Davey was the longtime guitarist for Elton John, was born in 1970 and spent his childhood years immersed in the easygoing, laid-back vibe of Southern California singer/songwriters and country-tinged acts like the Eagles and Jackson Browne. Local Honey is his attempt to recreate this sound 30 years later — and, here's the kicker — it was recorded live to four-track in one prolific week following a bitter breakup. Ouch. But with Local Honey, Johnstone's misery is your joy, since at least his muse didn't leave him. The album is bursting with highlights, from wounded, Eagles-esque country-rock like "Letdown" to more shambolic country-rock like "Airport Breakfast" and soaring, almost Fleetwood Mac-styled pop like on "Coming Down" and gut-wrenching ballads like "Stay." Many will surely be divided on Johnstone's inclusion of a country-fried remake of the Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now" (a nod to his teen years, perhaps?), but it manages to stand as the album's only lighthearted moment even though the song itself is actually really sad. Johnstone's vocals fly a bit too frequently into the "strained falsetto" range, but it's the lone drawback to this fine, gorgeous record, perfect for a rainy Sunday morning and a cup of coffee.

Local Honey, The General Store
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