There’s nothing like a blues-clad slice of Americana to put a little zest in a spring playlist, and in Francine Honey’s “Stay,” listeners find a quaint singer/songwriter tune that is brimming with warm harmonies that are as sprawling in style as they are simple in design. Here, kaleidoscopic piano keys draw us ever closer as guitars dance like carefree lovers who have just found each other under the glow of the midnight moon, and Honey’s voice is the only thing capable of eclipsing their evocativeness. “Stay” is an illuminating and personal ballad, but more than anything else, it’s a picture window into the heart of one of country’s burgeoning powerhouses unlike any other that we’ve heard before.
Most of us already knew that Francine Honey can sing, but even I couldn’t have predicted the depth of emotion that she would lay down in this song prior to first hearing To Be Continued…. The video for the track goes back and forth between a young woman’s stoic gaze and a live performance by Honey and her bandmates, and while there aren’t any bells and whistles from frame to frame, there’s a haunting texture in the monochromatic visuals that is worth writing home about just as much as the music is.
The production quality of “Stay” is second to none, although I think it’s worth pointing out that it doesn’t smother any of the organic tones in Honey’s voice nor those in the instrumentation. There’s a big difference between polishing up a melody and whitewashing it in sparkling sonic garnishes, and I’m glad that this artist decided to take the former route as opposed to the latter when constructing this song. It makes it easy for us to tell how much of her presence would translate in a live setting, and actually adds to a chill-factor that this single already has in spades.
Francine Honey keeps it simple and delivers a sweet ballad for the ages in “Stay,” and if there were any critics who doubted her abilities prior to its release, I think it’s safe to say that they’re going to be singing quite a different tune once they catch wind of this stimulating song and its acerbic music video. Making Americana that doesn’t recycle the same iconic imagery that made the genre one of the most celebrated in our modern culture is no walk in the park, but for Francine Honey, it doesn’t take more than a lively lead vocal and a heartfelt harmony to accomplish what so many artists in country have been failing to in recent years.