You’ve heard this before
Portland artist Kyle Craft has made a new album that doesn’t actually sound all that new. Released on the Sub Pop label of ‘grunge’ repute, Showboat Honey shows that Craft is a palpably good songwriter. But, this album is an imitation; it’s a fine project, though still, an imitation. Throughout, he emulates his influences so much so that this record is just recycling more than anything else. This is then so obvious that it inhibits any connection between the artist and listener, and, just as well, is really obnoxious.
The opening track sounds like a Beatles song. Further along, the bittersweet “Deathwish Blue” is just a manifestation of Elton John. You would think that you’d heard these songs somewhere before. Indeed, after 36 minutes of material, listeners are left still knowing nothing of Craft as an artist. There’s little discernible originality here; those tracks that aren’t xeroxes are just entirely unremarkable, save some highlights. This record isn’t exactly an exemplar for authenticity. However, these words are more an indictment of Craft rather than of his work. There are really good songs on this project. Both the songs mentioned earlier are good. Again, it’s an imitation, but recognition of that shouldn’t be construed so as to suggest that there’s no merit to listening.
There are a lot of songs that you could listen to again; they’re catchy, and they’re certainly not lacking in their performance and instrumentation. Craft’s a good songwriter, and he would be an even better one if he strayed a little further from existing acts. Whilst many were boring, some of those songs that aren’t xerox’s were among the best on the album. The highpoint was “Blackhole Joyride,” where Craft couples themes of personal struggle with smug vocals to deliver a thoroughly cynical and entertaining product. So, touching upon that previous point, had he been more thoughtful as to how he could craft a style of his own, this could have been an excellent work. But he didn’t, and so, Showboat Honey is just a couple of catchy singles that aren’t really worth any further note or comment.