AMANDA ANNE PLATT & THE HONEYCUTTERS
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
RECORD LABEL:Organic Records
LOCATION:Asheville, North Carolina
“This album,” says Amanda Anne Platt, “has been a wild ride—both in the global and personal events that took place during its creation and in the creation itself.” Wild ride though it may have been, that album—Amanda Anne Platt and The Honeycutters’ two disc The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea, on Organic Records (February 25, 2022)—reveals, in its elegant, heartfelt combination of sweeping concept and intimate execution, an artist at the height of her powers, fronting a band exquisitely attuned to the blend.
Technically, the album is a compilation of singles mostly released between April and December of 2021 (“Desert Flowers” and “There May Come A Time,” released together in the fall of 2020, served as a prequel) in pairs that reflected the two sides of the titular dualism. As Platt told it early on, “I’ve always liked that saying. For me, the two groupings of songs represent different sides of the creative process, with The Devil including the more manic, upbeat, outgoing—maybe even grotesque at times—and The Deep Blue Sea being more reclusive, contemplative, understated. As an artist I’ve spent a long time judging myself when I’m at either extreme, so it’s nice to have an opportunity to celebrate the balance they provide one another. As a good friend of mine put it, ‘Sometimes you’re drowning in The Deep Blue Sea and you need The Devil to pull you out.’”
Yet even as its original, “deconstructed” release pattern invited close-up contemplation of each track, The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea stands as an organic whole, with each disc devoted to one of those poles, ordered in the same sequence (except those two prequel singles, now serving as postscripts) in which they were released. Across the score of songs, themes emerge—departures and returns; slow-burning realizations and sudden insights; constancy and faithlessness; families beginning and ending; the turning of the seasons and more—and are woven together in a cascade of memorable melodies, elaborated and commented upon by the empathetic musicality of The Honeycutters, who always manage to find just the right timbres and textures to flesh out each of Platt’s songs. From the opening “New York,” with its punchy rhythms and hypnotically alternating chords, through the languid, rounded tones of “Another Winter Gone,” the rolling finger-picked guitar and ghostly organ behind the wistfully meditative “Always Knew” and on to the rocking “Girls Like You,” each song both stands on its own and contributes to the cumulative impact of the full set.
Platt notes that, while the essential concept for The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea was sketched out early on, the nature of the process posed its own challenges, too. “As we carried on with releasing two tracks from the project each month,” she recalls, “more than once it seemed like a song would take on a new poignancy as life unfolded at the same time. A lot of the time we were scrambling to finish the tracks that were to be released the following month… it added an immediacy that I liked, to some extent, but also might be glad to never do again. Because of the disjointed nature of the recording process I was worried that the songs might not fit together as cohesively as I had planned, but when I finally sat down and listened to the finished product I realized that there were themes running throughout that I hadn’t even intended, images that I used repeatedly even though some of these songs were written years apart.”
“I guess it feels a little funny to be releasing a ‘concept album’ in a time when there is so much emphasis on streaming,” she concludes. “Especially one composed of songs that have all been available to stream individually for some time now. But I also grew up in the nineties, and have always been a stickler for the way things fit together, how one song flows into the next on an album. And so I will say that, even if CDs seem to be going the way of the dinosaur, I am extremely satisfied to have something to show for these past two years, a body of work that makes sense to me and give these songs a home.”
KEY SELLING POINTS
- An Asheville, NC entity, the band is critically acclaimed locally, regionally, nationally, as well as overseas
- Previous album Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters (Organic Records 2017) placed #2 (sandwiched between Jason Isbell and Gregg Allman) in their regional radio station WNCW’s year end listeners poll for 2017