by: Robert Palmer

Honey features familiar pleasures for Robert Palmer fans. Present here are the worldbeat references which Palmer, incidentally, had started incorporating into his work as far back as the '70s. Also in place are the soul and funk touches and the blistering hard rock guitar parts. The latter come courtesy Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme, who is given free rein to rampage over the second half of the album, blowing guitar-hero sized holes in the woodwork. Palmer himself sounds as inhumanly suave as ever, though much of the material is a prescription for déjà vu. Tracks like the funk-lashed cover of Devo's "Girl U Want" are dead ringers for the stuff on the Riptide album. Much of the first half is given over to the worldbeat excursions, complete with Palmer singing in what sounds like pretend African dialect on the title track. That's two title tracks actually -- "Honey A" and "Honey B" (yes, very clever). Ironically, given its title, this album is much more hard-edged than Heavy Nova and Riptide, with only a couple of tracks that allow Palmer to showcase the soul-man persona that was previously such a big part of his oeuvre. Highlights include "Know By Now," a tasty mid-paced rocker, and "Nobody But You," a twitchy, coiled funk ditty. Honey has its moments, and plenty to spare, but it also occasionally gives the impression of a man who's trying too hard, which is the antithesis of everything the super laid-back Palmer has come to represent. ~ Leslie Mathew

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