Abby Zotz delivers Local Honey
There’s a vague touch of classical music penetrating a rock band’s furious riffing. In hip-hop, free jazz elements are influencing the flow styles of young rappers. A DJ is manipulating the psychedelic grooves of Jimi Hendrix, and somewhere there’s an acoustic trio playing nothing but Metallica songs. There’s no need to debate it; pop music is diversifying beyond any of the parameters that we’ve created for it, and it’s changing the way we consume melodic audio. Artists like Canada’s Abby Zotz are redefining pop for a new generation of cultured ears, and Zotz’ own album Local Honey is perhaps the genesis of the postmodern movement’s impact on singer/songwriters. Shaped by a sublimely open minded artist, Local Honey is a record tailor made for our eclectic times, and you don’t have to be a big folk music fan to appreciate its importance.
To get a grasp of just how varied the style of play is on Local Honey, one needn’t look further than Zotz’ gripping rendition of “All Through the Night” and her own song “Peace Sweet Peace.” Both in pace and in delivery the two tracks couldn’t be much more contrasting, but when played together in this album they stylistically play off of each other’s narratives to give us the full scope of Zotz’ vocal facilities. She shows us that she can sing swinging blues songs just as easily as she can weave a gospel song into a majestic pop ballad, and there aren’t any hick ups in the transition between the two. That isn’t just uncommon in modern music, it’s downright impossible to find.
“You’ll Never Know” is another keen illustration of Zotz’ amazing range and could have probably led off the album as its first single. As much as I enjoyed the music videos for “Good Bones” and “Big Hope,” I think this hidden gem is really the nucleus of Local Honey and is a deeply fitting way to draw the album to a close. I like that the tension builds gradually throughout these eleven songs before finally reaching a fever pitch in the concluding track; it’s a nice change from similarly styled albums which break off the big melodies towards the beginning and wind up sounding terribly top heavy when all is said and done.
We asked for it and Abby Zotz produced for us the indie folk album that we’ve all been waiting for since the dawn of the 21st century. Devoid of the self-righteousness and hipster fodder and the commercial influence of the contemporary pop realm, Local Honey is everything that diehard folk fans love and newcomers can’t seem to find anywhere else. It lives and dies by its originality, and though there are few in her genre or even outside it that have the charisma that it takes to make an album as expansively experimental as this one work, she makes it all seem so effortless. I’m dying to get my hands on her next record, and if the momentum around this one gets any more intense, I doubt that I’ll have to wait very long to hear its successor.