As a guitar gently caresses a lighthearted beat, Francine Honey sings “Light’s comin’ in through the window / I love watching you sleep / My head finds its way to your pillow / Warm breath, heartbeat.” Her words bounce off of an effervescent bassline and punctuate the percussion with an emotionality that is one of a kind, and as we press on it becomes abundantly clear that Honey isn’t playing typical pop games with us in her latest single “Stay.” She’s reaching for the stars on the whim of an ascending melody, and finding her place atop a crowded country hierarchy that has started to take shape in the American underground recently.
The lyrics here are quite intimate and charismatic, but the music is equally as expressive in tone. For every weighty word that slips from her gilded pipes, there’s a pummeling sonic echo in the drums that awakens the feeling of heartache from a long, forced slumber. Honey wears her heart on her sleeve in “Stay,” and despite the blunt vulnerability in her poetic drawl, it never feels like she’s stretching the truth, nor trying to appeal to us on some disingenuous level. She sounds honest, open and unapologetic in every statement she makes here.
This narrative is a familiar one, but it’s nowhere near the derivative style of some of the less than sophisticated singles that her contemporaries in alternative country have been turning in all throughout 2019. The singer/songwriter genre is diversifying itself in new and exciting ways right now, and Francine Honey doesn’t appear to have any interest in aligning herself with one specific facet of her scene over another in “Stay.” Actually, she seems content to toe the line between folk-pop and introspective Americana, which isn’t something that I’ve heard anyone else in her peer group doing lately.
These guitars aren’t paced with the bass or the drums, but instead put in the front of the mix next to the vocal, which makes them a loud, crushing force to be reckoned with when we get into the chorus of the song. I might have made them a little less dominant in the grander scheme of things, but I can see why Honey decided to go with this formula. Unlike the alt-country crooners, she doesn’t want to build a song around her verses exclusively, but instead wishes to share the stage with an instrumental melody that is as powerful and emotive as she is on her own.
I’ve been hooked on the music video and single for “Stay” since first being referred to it by a colleague in the music industry, and I think you’d have to be crazy to ignore the strength of the harmonies that it renders its trademark hook from. If the video indeed captures what it’s like to see Francine Honey live, then seeing her the next time that she hits the road should be a top priority for anyone who considers themselves keen on up and coming country stars. “Stay” is, for all intents and purposes, a noteworthy highpoint in her young career.
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