Divorces can be messy, but married couple Natalie and Ryan Houck’s split from Green Corn Revival to form altcountry act Honeylark was as amicable as possible, with both sides citing the ol’ “irreconcilable differences.”
“Ryan and I had been writing our own stuff for a long time,” Natalie Houck said. “You know how artists are: We don’t want to give up control of our own work. It was a lot of tension, and we felt it was mutually beneficial for us to have our own project.”
Honeylark drummer Kenny Holloway, who also performed in Green Corn Revival, gave all parties involved the proper perspective as the two bands move forward.
“[He] said no one should be disappointed, because now there’s two great bands out of one,” Natalie said. “That’s one good way to look at it.”
To call the two carbon copies, despite the alt-country roots and similar personnel, would sell Honeylark short; the new tunes are a breed of their own.
“It’s country-influenced, still, but this has more of a folk flair to it,” Ryan Houck said. “It’s also a darker, heavier feel. The Green Corn stuff was pretty accessible and ethereal. This has a Nick Cave and Tom Waits-esque vibe.”
Death Cab for Cutie, St. Vincent and Natalie Merchant also come into play.
“It’s a depressing playlist, but I love it,” said Natalie Houck, who steps into the spotlight as lead singer. “I like to get in touch with my dark side.”
She can dive into that darker realm as deep as she wants to go, formulating the early beginnings of “folk-rock noir” songs that her husband helps refine. Providing the finishing touches are Caleb Creed (keys, accordion), Justin Ransford (mandolin) and Wally Tarkington.
“I’m not going to lie and say it’s always easy,” Natalie Houck said of working more intimately with her spouse. “We have our conflicts over it, arguments over silly little details, but that’s just life. When you bring art into it, it can be tricky, but it’s also so rewarding.”
Friday at VZD’s marks Honeylark’s debut performance, with a slate of shows booked through fall. The Houcks aim to deliver their first album next year. Until then, the new arrangement feels like the perfect marriage.
“The change of energy and scenery has got everyone excited again,” she said. “We all thrive on change now and then.”