What a big and strong shock for my ears it was, when I heard The California Honeydrops for the first time ! I like sometimes to put a CD in my player without looking, or deep-looking, at the label. This way, I'm not distracted by any picture, text, or story I might read before. And sometimes, I must admit it, it's just mechanical. Thus, I wasn't really focused on this CD at the first time. It was just one of the big CD pile I had to listen to. But what a catch it was.
From the first note I heard I couldn't let it go. I was really captivated by this amazing mix of Soul and Rhythm & Blues, so soulful and with an expressive joy.
Coming from Oakland and lead by Warsaw-born singer Lech Wierzynski, The California Honeydrops know how to catch us. Their music is between Americana, Soul and Blues with influences from Louis Armstrong to Sam Cooke. Lead by the trumpets you can't help yourself from dancing. Even this little head shaking you got right now is a proof of it. Going straight to the heart of those musics, they got the perfect feeling.
Like You Mean It is the third record of the band. From the first song, "Here Comes Love", everything that you may find in the CD is wonderfully exposed here. The piano is here for the melody as much as for the rhythmic part. The trumpets and this cool whistled melody are here to punctuate the all stuff. This craziness and musical joy seems to be spontaneous, almost imperfect but it's obviously a strong work, perfectly mastered.
We also have a great Gospel part, with "Just Another Day" where the voices and the organ show how The California Honeydrops are skilled to make their music to shine. They totally control the musical expression and we never feel like we're listening to an imitation.
All along the record, we got this lousy-cool feeling that is so pleasant. Blues becomes gold with songs like "Baby Boy's Blues". You're diving in a comfortable sweetness, closing your eyes and following the flow. It's like walking on a cloud and laying down on the floor. Actually I could talk about any song like that. Every track is at the same time, a new place, a new feeling but it's always logical in the overall work. It's not a patchwork of different music styles well done but all mixed up on a CD. It's more like a cool concert where you feel deeply connected to the music, forgetting where you are, with whom or when.
This is true Blues, true Soul, true Gospel, and so. Everything is made and played with the heart. They make the American Black Music alive with the most beautiful tribute to his masters. A great record you will play again and again for a while.