An immediate warmth permeates this album of a dozen tracks from the Bay Area favorites. The lilt and sway of the starter, “Honey and Butter,” predicates a record full of unhurried soul and swing- and care- baked in with a standard of musicianship that not only echoes its predecessors without derivation, but pays conscientious homage as it slip-slides along. There is the stoned bliss of “Taking my Time,” the album’s single. And there is the lyrical wink to Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” on “Gonna Be Alright,” or a bell-bottom funk that sweats through on “I Miss You Baby Pt. 1,” with a retro-proto disco, mid-1970s vibe that won’t quit.
The California Honeydrops are fabulous students of their influences, painting past albums with colors of vintage soul, R&B, funk and jazz. Soft Spot continues down that path, and does so without self-centered glut; without the cloying intent of drawing praise for how much they’ve paid attention. With this gathering of talent, it feels a natural fit across the board. Probably it’s why when they delve into even more new territory- such as African and Caribbean rhythms; best exemplified on the wondrously light unfurling of “The Unicorn”- it plays as comfortably as all the rest.
Yet, it’s on the finale- the second part of “I Miss You Baby”- that closes the album with such an infectious celebration- recalling the band’s magnetic and magical live performances- when the band really ties it all up tight but seductively loose. A second-line New Orleans backbeat. An irresistible dance groove. Sax sizzle from Johnny Bones. Bursting trumpet from their eclectic captain, Lech Wierzynski. A crew of voices carrying the world down to Toulouse and Dauphine, by way of Oakland, California.
It’s as honey sweet as these drops get.