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Katy B - Honey (Album Review)

Thursday, 28 April 2016 Written by Huw Baines

To describe a new album as a project is to tread on shaky ground. The word has been used out of context, and misleadingly, so many times that it carries a pretentious weight around its neck. To cut through that requires something different; a clean break from normal service. That’s precisely what Katy B has attempted to do with ‘Honey’.

In following up ‘Little Red’, a number one album in the UK, she has opened the door to a host of producers and collaborators. The tracklist here is an impressive assemblage of names, ranging from Four Tet to Major Lazer and Novelist to Hannah Wants, while R&B’s comeback kid, Craig David, rubs shoulders with a hotly-tipped newcomer like Kaytranada.

The difficulty is holding the whole thing together. It’s a task that Katy B takes in her stride, with ‘Honey’ reaffirming her stated aim of binding chart momentum and dancefloor imperatives. Her vocal performances here are commanding and she navigates a number of uneven segments with composure.

There, of course, lies the problem. Katy B might make it look easy, but there’s no escaping the fact that the number of cooks around this particular pot has had a detrimental effect on its cohesion. In its best moments, the Kaytranada-assisted title track, the heady I Wanna Be or the atmospheric Water Rising, which features Mssingno and Geeneus, there is a shared purpose that shines through.

Who Am I?, where David and Major Lazer are her accomplices, is another shining example of ‘Honey’ working as a concept. It’s a very honest, personal walk through the emptiness at the end of a relationship, but one where David’s verse is less a counterpoint than an underlining of the song’s sentiment. Similarly, Sasha Keable’s appearance on Chase Me adds a second prong to the song’s pointed response to predatory, sleazy men, while Four Tet and Floating Points make things just a little weird on Calm Down.

The issue elsewhere isn’t necessarily a drop in quality, rather that much of ‘Honey’ comes across as a decent Katy B record. The expectation that we will hear something entirely fresh never quite disappears from view, meaning that the perfectly acceptable So Far Away or Dark Delirium don’t stack up as they might in a different context and Lose Your Head, where the Heavytrackerz, D Double E and J Hus drop in, can’t shake its prosaic hook.

As a whole ‘Honey’ generally works, but fails to set the world alight in the manner it was intended. Chopped into segments and deployed in the right place at the right time and that could change.

Katy B Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri April 29 2016 - LEAMINGTON SPA Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms
Sat May 14 2016 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton

Click here to compare & buy Katy B Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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