Following a self-recorded debut and full-band follow-up that was tracked live in a studio under the guidance of Chris Funk (the Decemberists), '70s rock disciple Kyle Craft returns with Showboat Honey, his third Sub Pop release. Still fusing American Southern rock, British glam, and the songwriter's own knack for colorful characters and phraseology, Showboat Honey was not only produced by Craft with two members of his band (keyboardist Kevin Clark and bassist Billy Slater), but named for his backing five-piece. The track list opens with the collaborative "Broken Mirror Pose," an under-three-minute, saxophone-aided barroom jam. Alongside playful lyrics like "Yeah, they came to my house, broke down the door/Stuck a mike to my mouth, said tell us more/But don't give us riddles or rhymes," its deliberate groove serves as an introduction for what's to come. Wasting no time exploring influences, next up is the twangy psych-pop tune "O! Lucky Hand" and the power pop-inclined garage rock of "2 Ugly 4 NY." On the sparer side, the rock ballad "Deathwish Blue" was performed entirely by Craft in the tradition of his 2016 debut, Dolls of Highland. Inspired by falling in love with his bride to be ("My eyes don't shine the way they used to/But that's easy to ignore/I ain't lonely like before"), it still has big-screen drama provided by string arrangements, piano, drums, and a howling melody. There are comforting shades of Lennon, Harrison, Dylan, Bolan, and Bowie throughout the album (all explicit influences), but Craft's unique voice -- literally and literarily -- keep them rooted in his perspective. Although Showboat Honey isn't as instantly gratifying in terms of infectious hooks as his previous releases, solid songs that settle in with repeat listens make it a worthy addition to his increasingly reliable catalog.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson