Honi Deaton and Dream - The Other Side

Honi Deaton and Dream - The Other Side

HONI DEATON AND DREAM
THE OTHER SIDE
C And L Entertainment
C&LE218

When you’ve got a bandleader with the vocal talents of Honi Deaton, an album should showcase that voice. Nelson McSwain, who produced The Other Side along with Honi Deaton & Dream, understands that concept. Honi’s lead vocals stand out on every song, supported ably by her husband Jeff on mandolin, Josh Brooks on banjo, and Wade Power on guitar. (Note: personnel are not listed on the CD.) Each musician brings a powerful set of chops to the recording, but no one gets in the way of Honi’s singing with heavy-handed backup. And the harmony vocals are as tight as you could want.

The Other Side is a good example of today’s modern bluegrass. The recording features acoustic instruments exclusively (no fiddle), and the well arranged songs, six co-written by Honi, have a strong Americana flavor. The band even moves into hard rock territory with the Guns ’N Roses number “Sweet Child Of Mine.” This might not be everyone’s cuppa tea, but it is well done and with Honi singing, you can actually understand the words! On the other hand, “Georgia On My Mind” and “How Great The Art,” which undoubtedly bring down the house at a live show, don’t quite measure up to the classic versions by Ray Charles and Kate Smith. Honi shines more brightly on her own song, “I Wish You Were Still In Love With Me,” a slow tearjerker whose heartbreaking title says it all. “Roadkill On The Highway Of Love” by Honi and Jeff is the most hard-driving (no pun intended!) number on the disc. Unfortunately, though the concept is clever, the imagery is a bit too graphic for a love song. I kept thinking of armadillos.

In spite of a few misses, the original material, tight harmonies, impressive instrumentation, and strong lead vocals on this recording make for some well performed twenty-first century bluegrass. (C&L Entertainment, P.O. Box 691505, Charlotte, NC 28227, www.candlentertainment.com.) MHH