The piano keys come gliding out of the silence with a smooth melodicism in the moments that come immediately after pressing play on “I Carry On,” the new single from singer/songwriter Francine Honey. Soon, strings, a moderate bassline and a pensive percussive element will jump into the mix as well, but it isn’t until we hear the voice of our leading lady that we experience the complete compositional depth of this latest release. The double single “I Carry On” is available in two distinct versions, and in this solo cut, I think Francine Honey successfully transitions Canadian country singer to the internationally-recognized songwriting master she’s undeniably been for at least the last two years.
Perhaps the most obvious difference between the two versions of this track was meant to be Robert Gray’s voice, but I think his method of execution does a lot more to imprint his artistry on the song than his actual singing does. As a vocalist, Gray is the masculine yin to Honey’s yang, warming up the backend of the track with a throaty melody that sways beside hers like a leaf in the summer wind. The lyrics dance like lovers unaware that the world is about the end in the duet, and even when the music fades away, it’s hard to shake the harmonies that they give themselves over to for at least 24 hours after initial exposure (in my experience, at least).
“I Carry On” is one of the only double singles that I’ve reviewed in the year 2020, but had it been one of an ocean of such content to reach my desk this May, I think it would probably stand out just as much. Francine Honey isn’t an experimental artist, nor would I classify her music as being particularly alternative to anything that the mainstream gods would approve of. What makes her a diamond in the rough is the ease with which she enters the recording studio every time she makes a new track, and whether Robert Gray is in the room with her or not, she’s one artist who can be counted on for a quality performance year in and year out.
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