Sebas Honing isn’t quite a one-man band but he comes mighty close, singing lead and playing guitar, bass and keys on The Big Shift.
He’s joined here by drummer Christiaan Bruin, and his wife Petra – the frontwoman in their band Equisa – on backing vocals. Petra’s involvement is a mixed blessing, as her strong delivery highlights the fact that Honing is a much stronger guitarist than vocalist; his voice struggles to convey much authority and sounds thin during the gentler passages.
Musically, the album is less adventurous than the 2014 outings The Middle To East and Songs Of Seas And Oceans, and the most compelling tracks focus on guitar. OMG throws some Megadeth-style thrash into the mix; the instrumental Full 180 is powered by a satisfyingly crunchy riff, and there’s some fluid lead work in Falling Down.
Flickering Heart explores poppy AOR territory, although many tracks contrast folk passages with heavier sections; a blueprint Honing employs repeatedly. But when he tries for Nick Drake-like melancholy The Big Shift stumbles (see Hometown’s collection of platitudes). Honing is at his best when he’s at his most grandiose and expansive. Maybe he should leave folk rock to others.