Decatur’s Gentle Readers have released their third album in a swirl of guitars and Wurlitzer organ that produces a soft, psychedelic ’70s sound. In keeping with that era, HiHoney can be seen as a concept album. If hating your job and wishing you’re somewhere else could be considered a concept.
The disc opens with “Lunchhour.” A good simple pop/rock opener, but it ends quickly and seems unfinished. Well, that’s the prologue. Singer Susan Fitzsimmons takes the role of this character in a nine-to-five job who dreams of better things. “Center of the Universe” starts us on our “trippy” jaunt with whirling guitars. In the country-flavored “Nothing You Can Do,” we learn that our hero’s “house is full of dirt… everything I own has peeling paint.” She needs to change her life. She wants to “sell everything we own, let’s try something we don’t know… or I will do something crazy.” The psychedelic sounds return in the soul-searching “Difficult,” where the ’70s sound is thankfully not over-the-top, but well-grounded, leading us into “Fiction.” Here the music slows down, and we learn the main character wants to “dream stories about strangers in places I’ve never been” in this well-written song. Our hero ventures out to “California” in a big, bright sound with poppy lyrics that will get everyone singing along “right on! California!” “Last Day at the Office” is another slow song that speaks for itself. Haven’t we all dreamed of that day? Which leads to a cover of “The Sweetest Taboo.” I haven’t figured out the connection between the Sade song to the rest of the concept. It is also the weakest number, because all the sensuality and mystique has been removed and sanitized. But on with the story! By “Separate,” our hero is leaving her dreary life behind in this Wurlitzer-driven song just right for go-go dancing. The album closes with “California Part 2,” obviously sung by the person our hero left behind, who reminds our hero she’s free to return anytime, because “you never were that gifted.“
Is that the story of all of us? Is it all just dreaming? Gentle Readers turns out a literary album well worth listening to. “Right on!