“Stability” sweeps listeners into the musical world of Abby Zotz’s Local Honey without ever being too forceful with its audience. It’s a measured ascent and casts an optimistic spell despite some underlying shadows present in the lyrics. Abby Zotz has extensive classical vocal training, but songs like this prove how technique informs the natural passion of her talent and her obvious involvement in the song’s words gives the track extra emotional heft. This song and many later tunes dance just above the ground, never weighing down the audience’s mood, and “Big Hope” keeps that running moving along. There’s new musical elements introduced into the album’s sound, organ and electric guitar, but the drumming has a more assertive snap than we heard on the first song.
“Peace Sweet Peace” will please anyone who loves gospel music, but escape any heavy handed dogma. The nondenominational and intensely human point of view of the song will appeal to the religious and non-religious alike and centers on Zotz’s singing. The pairing of Zotz’s singing and the acoustic guitar on “Pirouette” makes this one of the most inward looking, yet achingly sensitive, listens on Local Honey. The hushed lulls of the song make for some of the most theatrically successful moments on the release and Zotz handles them with just the right amount of artistry.
The same near shuffle qualities we hear in the earlier “Pirouette” returns during the song “Good Bones” and Zotz’s precise invocation of character renders a full blooded, flesh and blood point of view for listeners to latch onto. The effervescent sway of this song from its opening to conclusion is one of Local Honey’s most unified, yet low key, moments. This hot stretch of the album goes on with the song “Be Here Now”, another fine piece of writing hooked up with just the right arrangement and some extra instrumentation than we hear on the bulk of the album.
The even-handed and slightly pensive mood of the piano playing for “All Through the Night” provides a nuanced counterpoint for the song’s crystalline vocal harmonies and Zotz’s carefully modulated circling through the song’s melody. You can hear how she possesses such exquisite control, but it’s never a dampening experience; instead, you feel slightly stunned at the level of concentration she brings to her performance. “See Your Face” has a gentle pop push after it builds from a spartan vocally driven affair. This is one of the most commercially minded tunes included on Local Honey, but never rings false and elicits one of her best singing performances.
Another top shelf vocal caps off the album with its ending “You’ll Never Know”. There’s definitely a serio-comic blues feel running through this tune, but there’s the hint of something serious palpable throughout the entirety of the song.
Abby Zotz has stepped out on her own for the first time, the music bearing her name alone, and she can be proud of the gem she’s produced while looking towards a future more boundless with promise than ever before.