By now, most of our readers are familiar with Holly McGarry, Chris Bloniarz, and Benjamin Burns, the local artists who together form folk trio Honeysuckle. The band won over the hearts of NPR listeners, performed at Newport Folk Festival, and has received multiple nominations for the Boston Music Awards. (They’re up for “Americana Artist of the Year” and “Folk Artist of the Year” again this year.)

Last year, we named their self-titled album as one of the year’s best in local music. This year they’re back with another release: Catacombs. Unsurprisingly, the album tackles some dark subject matter—something that is reflected in the cover art, which features a modern day catacomb of sorts. It’s a photo of a 1940s era bomb shelter, a diorama built by artist Becky Levine to reflect the moodiness of the album.

When we asked vocalist and guitarist Holly McGarry to describe the album and song as a house, McGarry further confirmed the bleak feel: If Catacombs, was a house it would be “old and lonesome, sitting empty by the shore of a picturesque lake in the middle of nowhere,” and the title track would be the old, dusty cellar. “Damp earthen floor, cobwebs and old pictures of loved ones and letters long forgotten stacked up in molding boxes,” she described.

Today, we’re premiering the title track, a song that reflects the coming of death, and the mixture of nostalgia and regrets that come with it.

Imagine “Catacombs” as a runaway spool of thread in a Disney-style illustrated world—say, one that belongs to a pre-ball Cinderella, doomed to eternal drudgery. The spool drops to the floor, continuing to roll after its fall, tumbling to the strums of the banjo, bouncing to the beating bass drum, unravelling with the melody of the high-pitched plucking of the mandolin until the thread
snaps. Honeysuckle artfully layers vocals and instruments to create tension, playing with tempo variations that build and build.

Yet even when the thread is taut—when the tempo has already quickened and song is thick with layers of sound—and the swell of anxiety and increasing tension have reached a climax, the trio still manages to further push the sense of discomfort. The final thirty seconds plunge into an off-putting key change and a flurry of percussion.

Honeysuckle releases Catacombs at their album release show on October 5th at Club Passim. 

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