Honey Made Take Fresh Approach to Soul and Funk on Steve Berlin-produced Debut LP ‘Brand New’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Honey Made is a soul and funk band from Austin that has shared the stage with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic and Lee Fields among others. 

Brand New is the band’s first full-length album and was produced by Steve Berlin, who insisted the band record at Texas Treefort Studios in Austin. Of the new album, vocalist Willie Barnes II said, “We are breathing new life into the soul genre. A lot of soul bands are trying to recreate a specific old school sound so much that there is no originality or advancement in the genre. This is a soul record on steroids.” 

The soul comes at you from everywhere on this album. It comes at you from the horns and the rhythms that are sure to get you moving. However, there is more to this album than just soul. “Chicken Sweat” features some guitar riffs that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Funkadelic. “Smoove” leans a little toward reggae sounds – especially in the vocals and the rhythm. You can also hear some Latin influence (not surprising for a band from Austin) in the rhythm of “Can You Feel It.”

“Steppin’ Out” is an upbeat song that was made to get people dancing. The beat gives the song a funky disco feel while the horns add an irresistible brightness to the mix. Meanwhile, you’ll find yourself singing along when the band sings. “”We’re steppin’ out!”  

The band shows it can slow things down with “Like You”. The mood of this song is akin to something by Barry White or Isaac Hayes while the vocals are more like The Soul of John Black.

Soul music isn’t really known for being meditative. “So Good” is more of a gospel song. In it, McKnight does a spoken-word part in which he asks the listener to focus on one good thing in life. The backing vocals make you feel like you’re in church.

It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you listen to this album. The songs are upbeat and made for dancing. And not just that kind of dancing where you stand in one spot and move. No, whether you have a partner or not, this album requires the sort of dancing where you get all sweaty. 

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