A song about a former lover, loneliness. A song about a two-timing lover. A song about lovers who cling to each other while autumn heaves around them. Love as sin, love as loss of self, love as waiting. These heartaches and lapses suffuse False Honey, the sophomore album by the local indie Americana and folk band Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful.
At False Honey’s recent release party, though, the mood was notable not for love’s absence or sorrows, but for its excess and joys. Halfway through the show, someone yelled, “I love you, Misty!” from the packed, buoyant audience. Misty Lyn Bergeron reciprocated the sentiment with a modest but sincere smile. Before the final number of the set (not counting the encore to follow), bassist Jim Roll announced that during the song–a long one–the crowd could make out with each other. Everyone laughed, but seemed okay with continuing to direct their affection stageward.
The album, written by lead vocalist and guitarist Bergeron, has a burnished sound that still allows the talents of each band member to shine through. Ryan Gimpert’s rich pedal steel melody swirls over and pours through the gorgeous “Simple One,” which also features a fluctuating pace kept by drummer Matt Jones and soft backup harmonies by Carol Gray. Gray’s fiddle and Jones’ electric guitar take the lead on “Tell the Devil,” which transitions from alt-country grit to folk sweetness and back again. Also worth mentioning is the opening track, “Capitol Song,” with its moving balance of song and sound: Bergeron’s poised vocals waltz with a steady guitar, while electronic ambience threatens to engulf the dance in dissonance, clanks, and static.
Bergeron has a warm and persuasive voice, reminiscent of Gillian Welch, but with duskier tones and the occasional pop inflection. Her vocals are at times welcoming, at times commanding, but always direct, and in a way that her lyrics are not. To say that many of the songs on False Honey express a heaviness of heart fails to capture the album’s degrees of feeling, and the oblique way Bergeron articulates these emotions. In “Fading,” for example, she sings about “The yellowing hours / Blazing through my bed / And the way your face was bending / Toward the ending when I said / I feel myself fading.”
Live performance outs weak and less adroit singers, but not Misty Lyn. During the live show, there was a moment in “Tell the Devil” when the thunderous guitar and fiddle withdrew, leaving a vast space for Bergeron and her acoustic guitar to fill. Strong and cool, her voice sounded as if it had flown over a chasm to reach us. Its fearless loft gave me shivers.
Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful are at the Blind Pig on Friday, Sept. 13.