Release Date: 06/09/15
A seasoned team of Nashville studio musicians and the deft touch of producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell) add heft to the latest release from duo Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe (aka HONEYHONEY). Santo is the kind of vocalist who makes baring her soul sound effortless. As an accompanist, Jaffe has a light touch, yet his presence is felt on every track.
Santo’s weathered and expressive voice is perfect for a tale of loss like the opening track, “Big Man.” Violin and banjo mesh beautifully with the guitar and vocals to create a lush-sounding arrangement. Mournful steel guitar from Nashville veteran Robbie Turner adds genuine honky-tonk atmosphere to the tender ballad, “Yours to Bear.” In this duo’s hands, a song lamenting lost love never feels like a cliché breakup song. Delicate harmonies and a sparse, earthy arrangement give “Burned Me Out” a fresh and original sound. “Back to You” and “Numb It” both sport a touch of outlaw country defiance, with dark lyrics and appropriately spare arrangements. On “Sweet Thing,” Santo and Jaffe prove that they can plug in and rock out when they want to. Jaffe’s fuzz-tone guitar riffs sound like they take a few cues from the Black Keys, while Santo’s sassy vocals perfectly match the rocking arrangement.
The power and grit in Santo’s voice and expert production from Cobb make 3 a memorable recording that deserves a place in the collection of all Americana fans.