Frank Black 

Honeycomb

After the enormous success of the Pixies comeback tour, singer Frank Black has chosen to put out this record, which not only in no way resembles the Pixies, but is also an estimable detour within his wide-ranging solo career. On Honeycomb, he has assembled an all-star lineup of famous session players and songwriters, including Steve Cropper -- who wrote the music to "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" -- hit tunesmith of yesteryear Spooner Oldham, bassist David Hood, and local Nashville singer Buddy Miller. This crew of professional oldsters constructs a glowing, sentimental, retro-country backdrop, with soft keyboard shuffles and shimmery guitar leads that impeccably anchor Black's more-inspired-than-usual songwriting. Among the strongest cuts are the stumbling-through-a-bar blues tune "Another Velvet Nightmare," a cover of Doug Sahm's "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day," and "Strange Goodbye," an upbeat duet with Black's ex-wife, recorded just after they divorced. These are all laid-back, twanging-on-the-porch-type tunes, mellow by just about anyone's grandpa's standards.

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