Sometimes you gotta get away to get it right. Husband and wife duo The Honey Dewdrops did just that in order to record their newest album, Silver Lining.
They set up shop on an old farm in Catawba, Virginia, atop a hill that looks east to Roanoke, and invited their best friends over to help tune guitars, craft songs, cook savory meals, keep the creativity flowing, make hot tea, and uncork the wine. The result is a remarkably homey recording that sounds so much larger than the two people at the center of the music. Beautiful harmonies flow together effortlessly, as quick as a second thought, and the acoustic instruments drift along the backroads of the music, between hills clouded with wood smoke. It’s music made in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, beholden not to ancient traditions, but to the spirit of the hills, to the handmade, community music that came before.
On their third album, Silver Lining, Laura and Kagey team up once more with multi-instrumentalist Barry “Doc” Lawson—who was also their wedding officiant—and Caleb Stine (of The Brakemen) to create more of the pure and wholesome sound that earned them a spot on A Prairie Home Companion in 2008. The hallmarks of the album are the glorious vocals and deft songwriting of Laura and Kagey, but their prowess on their instruments is well showcased as well, both with Kagey’s subtle guitar work and Laura’s banjo (and guitar) playing on several instrumentals. The album opens with “One Kind Word,” arguably the most energetic track on the whole album, which immediately pulls the listener in. “Hills of My Home” sounds so much like a lost Kate Wolf track that it’s heartbreaking to listen to. Instrumental banjo & guitar track “Catawba” pays homage to the Appalachian town in which they recorded, which is rural even to rural Virginians. The title track, “Silver Lining” recalls the songwriting lyricism of the Indigo Girls with lines like “I can see clouds for what they are/.../Showing where the colors hide/In the space between you and I” while retaining deep country roots in the refrain “When it don’t look so good / I’m always finding / You’re my silver lining.” And if you’re looking for authentic Appalachian balladry, the closing track “Bright Morning Stars,” the only traditional song on the album, has some of the most eerie and haunting sounds that you’ll hear for a long time.