On his 10th solo album, Frank Black approaches Southern roots and soul, not as a philanderer, but as a lover. Which stands to reason: Since 1998's Frank Black & the Catholics, this head Pixie's leering weakness for genre-play has gradually given way to something more heartfelt. The rich, dewy arrangements of Honeycomb are stuffed with understated performances by such Muscle Shoals/Memphis soul legends as Steve Cropper and Dan Penn, not to mention Black's own taut guitar work -- but it's the songs themselves that carry the 14-track collection. Black's originals include "Selkie Bride," a cleverer, more ambivalent love song than Elvis Costello has penned in years; the '50s-ish ballad "Another Velvet Nightmare," co-written with Black's Boston homie Reid Paley; and "Go Find Your Saint," with an infectious, Pixies-like chorus, sans bluster. These elegantly sentimental tunes sit so comfortably next to wistful versions of a Doug Sahm classic and Penn's "Dark End of the Street," it's a wonder that this is the same guy once known for impenetrable tales of caribou and bohemian sex.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.