Honey Cellarr’s sophomore album Borders takes listeners beyond the surface and dives deep into the interconnectedness of humanity with the earth and the complicated relationships of humans with each other. The album glides seamlessly between evocative subject matters and weaves themes together with artful ease.

“In the last few years, we—as a band and as individuals—have gone through a multitude of life changes. We’ve faced heartbreak, death, illness, job changes and financial insecurity. We’ve started new relationships, ended old ones and some of us have gotten married. We’ve traveled and lived in other cities and countries. And through it all, we’ve been observing, reflecting and writing,” the band explains.

In this way, Borders feels like a collage of the human experience. Reflecting on the magnitude of nature on “Dorma,” exploring feelings of conflicting agony and grief on “Rice” and then jumping to lighthearted sweetness on “Love Song,” this 11-track album authentically captures life’s highs and lows. The candidness and talent of band members Joey Buttlar (drums, percussion), Danny Connolly (vocals, rhythm guitar), Lucy Holden (vocals, violin, mandolin), Catherine Krol (vocals, bass, guitar) and Tariq Shihadah (lead guitar) shine through on every track in new ways.

Differing from their debut album, Borders finds folk-rock group Honey Cellar bordering new musical territories. The band’s folky foundations, which still prominently feature their characteristic violin, mandolin and flute, were infused with subtle indie and pop elements, bringing a new dimension to their sound.

Borders shows both an instrumental and lyrical evolution as throughout the album, the group poses thought-provoking questions, but doesn’t necessarily seek to answer them. Instead, they intentionally leave space for their ruminations to be felt deeply and to be reflected on intentionally. Tracks like “Passing Ships,” “Curtain,” “Artist’s Dream” and “About You” contemplate the “what if’s” of relationships in the face of unfulfilled love. On the other hand, “787” and “Sisters” speak of familial relationships and define their importance with tender anecdotes.

Creating a well-rounded yet thematically sound record isn’t easy, but Honey Cellar manages to do it. Zooming into the micro-workings of some relationships while allowing for perspective from a macro level, Borders also tackles environmental issues and the scope of humanity through the lens of the earth and our fleeting time on it. “All of us have stood at borders, whether physical, mental, emotional, or relationship-based, and had to make big decisions about our future,” Holden explains. “We also see ourselves—as a few of the many humans on the planet—standing at social and environmental borders.” This is why tracks like “Around,” “Dorma” and “Come What May” hold profound importance to the group and seek to explore the idea of life cycles and the complex yet simple nature of things.

Listening to Borders is like going through a dark tunnel with winds and turns, highs and lows, but ultimately, with light on the other side. In the final track, they sing: “Winter fades, earth spins round, we all rise to another dawn. Come what may, we’ll stand our ground. We will smile, as we go on.”

Cover art for ‘Borders’ by Honey Cellar
Author

Dawn Jones is the curator of the V13 imPRESSED Column. Previously known as imPRESSED Indie Music Blog, Jones and her team joined forces with V13 in 2020 to collaborate on an exclusive column on V13's site (imPRESSED) to bring a niche focus to the rapidly evolving indie music genre. Dawn is also the founder of Pressed PR - a boutique PR agency that focuses on PR for independent creatives. Pressed PR’s team works on a variety of campaigns partnering with independent filmmakers, independent artists, and independent labels. Pressed PR’s music clientele has landed in the pages of Billboard, Atwood Magazine, EARMILK, HYPE Magazine, and many others.