Honey in the Lion's Head
First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2004, Volume 11, #3
Written by John Metzger
Apparently, the folk scene is alive and well in Iowa, and it all revolves around singer-songwriter Greg Brown. Not only did his wife Iris DeMent and daughters Pieta and Constie add their vocals to several tracks on his new album Honey in the Lionís Head, but local hero Bo Ramsey served as co-producer while augmenting the material with some guitar of his own. Save for a single original tune (Ainít No One Like You) and a cover of Jim Garlandís I Donít Want Your Millions Mister, Brown and his entourage succeed in forsaking contemporary material in order to dig deep into American tradition. Indeed, the remaining 10 tracks are all standards, plucked from the ravages of time and considerably revitalized. Take the familiar songs Old Smokey and Who Killed Cock Robin, for example. On each, Brown conveys a wealth of emotion, which long ago was stripped away from them through overexposure. As a result, the former becomes a woeful loversí lament, the latter a melancholy mourning. Elsewhere, he somberly strolls through the Carter Familyís I Will Never Marry and finds religion on the setís rousing finale of Samson and Jacobís Ladder. Thereís no question that at first glance Honey in the Lionís Head appears as a sparse and somewhat sleepy song cycle, but given a chance, it seeps under oneís skin and cuts like a knife, straight to the bone.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box