When I revisited my review of The Local Honeys’ album The Gospel, I could’ve sworn I wrote it years ago. I remember being captivated by how warm and inviting a Christian bluegrass album could be. Two genres I’m not against but typically not interested in. The Gospel was an oddity I wasn’t expecting and it came at a time when I needed it the most. Turns out, that article was published 4 days before my home state was closed down due to the COVID pandemic. As romantic (and maybe corny) it is to say, I like to think it was God preparing me for the unforeseen hardships of the incoming months. After all, the point of that album is to show love and be inclusive.
Just as the year eases into its finale, Soul Step Records presented me with another record from The Local Honeys. Titled Little Girls Actin’ Like Men, I honestly had no idea what kind of life lesson the bluegrass duo was gonna inevitably teach me.
To get you up to speed, The Local Honeys is a bluegrass duo made up of Kentucky natives Montana Hobbs and Linda Jean Stokley. Combining virtuosic instrumentation of banjo, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, with lush vocal harmonies, Hobbs and Stokley are keeping the Appalachian tradition alive on their own terms. Their sound is deeply rooted in tradition but never slipping into theatrical gimmicks or archaic nostalgia. As I’ve already stated, their talents not only convinced me to willingly listen to a Christian bluegrass record but name it one of the most satisfying records of the year.
Recorded and originally released a couple of years before The Gospel, Little Girls Actin’ Men, is a slightly different affair. All the instrumentation is all there as well as the vocals and delivery. But instead of singing about the communal healing of the church, Little Girls Actin’ Like Men puts the emphasis on the people who may be in that church. And to me, that’s where Hobbs and Stokley excel as artists. Every story in every song is coming from a place of honesty to where they feel like people I know.
With that said, Little Girls Actin’ Like Men isn’t so much inclusive as it is retrospective. Whether its a bluegrass standard or an original about anti-fracking, Hobbs and Stokley’s goal of keeping Appalachian music alive is achieved by reminding the listener we are all part of the same community. It isn’t about what the church can do, but how we are the church.
All the more reason Soul Step Records is including this album as part of their Footprint Series, preserving the very music The Local Honeys has crafted in Little Girls Actin’ Like Men. Available on limited edition vinyl, this record is not only a prequel to The Gospel but maybe even a companion. Either way, The Local Honeys are the perfect soundtrack as we try to rebuild our own communities across the country. Maybe even the world?
Little Girls Actin’ Like Men is available on vinyl exclusively at Soul Step Records.