With the weather brightening up and the days getting longer, I have to consider it a very wily move to be releasing Raw Honey at this time, a ray of light if I might use the analogy. His second under the moniker Drugdealer, Michael Collins (not to be confused with another more notorious character of the same name) has released this aptly titled work of 9 simply glorious tunes. Music that lays firmly between the influences of his found home of the underground scene in L.A., where the lazy hazy west coast sounds of The Beach Boys and Steely Dan meet with those of fellow West Coast singer-songwriter Randy Newman, whilst at the same time crossing the Atlantic to meet with Abbey Road Lennon & McCartney.
We are introduced to this album, through the chilling strings of the almost Randall and Hopkirk like ‘You’ve Got To Be Kidding’, a sub 3 minute 30 instrumental where a lonely car is started, only to drive across a gravel pathway and out of shot, while a choir of children sings to its passing, the bass line adding to this interpretation. No sooner than this is out of sight and ‘Honey’ is stirred into this already rising soufflé, the deep coffee-like vocal tones offered, by collaborator Natalie Mering, recounting a melancholy story of life’s losers, think Nico and you will be getting a feel for what is being offered, vocally. Through the Randy Newman feel of both ‘Lonely’ and ‘Lost In My Dream’, numbers in which the melody takes centre stage, while the vocalist merely plays the narrator. The next number ‘Fools’, plays to an influence of Steely Dan, with saxophone and electric guitar played to good effect, during and as this number plays out. Another Newman influenced number follows, in ‘If You Don’t Know Now, You Never Will’, the vocalist’s melancholy singing to a Lennon-ish refrain.
While most of this album has so far looked to the past and the likes of The Beach Boys, Steely Dan & Randy Newman, by the time we reach track 7, ‘Wild Motion’ is certainly looking to a more recent influence, as a number which has a definite feel for the sounds of Father John Misty. No sooner than this is over, we are in the Abbey Road Studios and the recording of Sgt Pepper, with ‘London Nightmare’, an influence certainly derived from Lennon & McCartney. Here we cross the pond to dip our toes in the Pacific, taking in the sunshine, while closing on the lyric “…something nice to eat, my life complete, isn’t it me?” Or something like that anyway, but I certainly had a feel for The Rutles, which is no bad thing. And as we close on the aptly named ‘Ending On A High Note’, I am certainly warmed to know that we came out as we went into this album, with tongue firmly in cheek and with the knowledge that while we are now saying goodbye to the old guard, music is in good hands.
Raw Honey is out now on Mexican Summer.