HONEY LAROCHELLE: The Yes Feeling (Butterfly Soul)

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Though she’s a “new” name, Vancouver’s Honey Larochelle boasts an impressive musical CV. Born Melissa Mya Larochelle, she’s worked with the likes of Joss Stone, The Brand New Heavies, Macy Gray, Omar and – most importantly – Roberta Flack. The soul veteran has personally mentored the now Brooklyn-based Honey in the ways of the music biz and has encouraged her to avoid the pitfalls that go with major labels; thus, here Ms Larochelle debuts on the Butterfly Soul imprint. Maybe not a major player but there’s been no budget skimping on the 14 tracker. Indeed ‘The Yes Feeling’ is an impressive debut and will please soul and R&B collectors of both the old and new schools.

After a redundant 20 second intro, the album properly opens with a trio of sedate, modern R&B beaters – ‘Heaven’, ‘Be Your Baby’ and ‘Hey Love’ and you could easily think you’d strayed into a new Alicia Keys album. Hear bits of things like ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ and ‘Empire State Of Mind’ in them all. Different again are two little Caribbean flavoured throwaways – ‘One Two Three’ and the brassier ‘I Open My Heart’. ‘Fight For Him’ is the LP’s fastest cut – but a little too fractured and frantic to be totally satisfying; much better are the loose, jazzy ‘Dear John’, the autobiographical ‘Canadian Girl’ and the sparse title cut.

The album’s best bits though come right in the middle in the form of two delicious laid back, mid-tempo, old school soul grooves. On both ‘Who’s Gonna Love You’ and ‘The One That Got Away.’ Honey’s clearly been listening to Ms Flack the mentor. Not that she tries to sing like Roberta; rather, Honey’s crafted two “proper” songs in the style of the old time greats. You know, tunes with a great melody, intelligent lyrics and a beginning, a middle and end. Focused, if you would, and Honey nails ’em both. Her brittle delivery is captivating – bringing out the vulnerable tenderness inherent in both compositions. Lovely and worth the entrance price! Find out more @ www.honeylarochelle.com

(BB) 3/5