Honne‘s debut album starts with a Radio DJ crackling through the FM waves. “It’s 3.17am,” he says, before introducing the album’s title track Warm On A Cold Night. In essence, that’s the vibe that the duo peddle, one that they’ve managed to hon(n)e – sorry – to a tremendous standard.
That their opening track, which also happened to be their first ever release, still stands up as a comforting blanket of soul does say a lot about them. The twinkling back-of-a-taxi romanticism sets up a lot of what’s to come, particularly in the shape a song takes thanks to Andy Clutterbuck’s distinct vocals.
If their aim was to make the soundtrack to fireside lovemaking, they pretty much accomplish that, even if it does at times include the cliches as well. Til The Evening is another track that sings with subdued soul, All In The Value takes the straightforward and adds a delicate lilt to it that’s impossible to dislike. Through it all, James Hatch’s instrumentation ranges from low-groove synth to full on baby-gravy guitar solos, but the union never feels forced.
In fact, if anything, it all feels too easy and too straightforward. Granted Honne have set out to create a certain mood for their debut – that opening radio skit certainly cements that – but it does mean that by Treat You Right there’s a note of predictability that’s difficult to shake. The songs are cosy but there’s a complacent feel to that comfort – while Izzy Bizu acts as a welcome foil on one track, the end result doesn’t quite push boundaries the way you’d hope. Still, there’s enough to enjoy here for Honne to make it to another round; we’ve seen their warming take on a cold night, but it’d be interesting to see how they fare in the harsh light of day.