-Greg’s Take- Honey & the 45s: The Need

Way back when, Chicago was a bustling metropolis of blues, jazz and funk. Over time that has faded due to the prevalence of rock. Even with the attempts to keep Chicago true, the smoky bars don’t seem to be filled with the echoing crooning and upright bass of yesteryear.

If there has ever been a chance to reignite the sound of the Chicago underground, the time is now. And who better to lift that veil then Honey & the 45s?

Old souls in a fresh mentality, Honey & the 45s croon out funk, jazz/blues that bleeds with retro style but feels very, very new. Their ten track release, The Need, tells a story of the Chicago musical evolution. Intended or not, it is a journey worth taking.  Beginning with deeply rooted jazz-club sounds in “Extra Extra” and “Not Whatcha Do” then growing to the funkier “Got The Need” and transitioning through to the folky/light rock “Worry” before settling down on the blues/rock of “If I Didn’t Want Ya,” Honey & the 45s flex their musical talents all while remaining firmly true to their abilities and original sound. They even venture into the whimsical with “Bum Bum Bum”. The oddly entertaining track incorporates an array of sounds with strange lyrics while maintaining grace; like a “Look what we can still do while sounding great” moment on the album.

The Windy City based five-piece is more than simply a band trying to make their sound and move ahead in the music world. Their ability to embody the essential life-force of their music, laid out by the generations before them, and play it seemingly effortlessly has me convinced these five are for real. Their natural cohesion plays a big part of what makes this album, and band, great.  Jon Gould’s guitar maintains a precise level of delivery where, even as a lead guitar, its purpose is to compliment the sound while maintaining a presence, crafting those hooks we look for, but doesn’t becoming overpowering. Max Benson’s bass is tasty. The ever present grooving licks truly craft that underground vibe that makes Honey a sexy sound. As with all great jazz, blues, rock or folk there needs to be a firm foundation and Chris Kusek does just that. His ability to alter the approach from track-to-track, from solid bass drum to light brushing,  his beats form a foundation of fundamental, yet moving precision percussion. Now, with all due respect to the men of the group, the shining gem lies in the leading ladies. Kim Kozel’s affection for a dying art allows her violin and sax talents to revel in the modern, yet vintage, sound only to be topped by her harmonizing vocals. Which brings us to leading lady, Kristina Cottone; her ability to snag each note, even when it feels as though it should be lost, is truly, well, noteworthy. From beginning to end, though each have their own talents, their contribution to the greater really makes Honey & the 45s come alive. Their ability to keep a sound going, one which many have written off, with such an authentic sultry, sexy delivery makes The Need well worth a spin.

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