Review: Hampshire & Foat – The Honeybear (Athens of the North, Feb 28)

It’s a special thing when an album makes you feel like a little kid again. This profound effect could arise from nostalgia or something even less tangible, a beautiful sense of innocence and carefree wonder that most (including me) sadly seem to have lost. With The Honeybear, Warren Hampshire and Greg Foat seem to have uncovered a relic of childhood daydreams, of imaginative adventures in a sun-drenched forest; it’s a record that perfectly captures a freedom that we may never again experience. Described as a musical representation of a nonexistent children’s book, The Honeybear is comprised of exquisite chamber folk arrangements, neo-medieval melodies, and gorgeous ambient sections. Interspersed throughout the “chapters” are subtle inclusions of field recordings collected around the Isle of Wight, introducing a pleasingly natural atmosphere. Though the record is entirely instrumental, even the least melodic elements seem to be more expressive than words ever could be. Whether you follow along with the story or are content to simply lose yourself amidst the undeniable warmth, The Honeybear is something very special.