I remember when I first heard ‘Katy On A Mission’, I was initially thrown and then hooked by the throbbing dubstep beat blaring through my speakers paired with a voice full of such character. I knew I hadn’t heard anything like this before, I became a fan from this moment and always look forward to her releases.
Since her debut single, she’s successfully released two albums, ‘On A Mission’- which introduced her as an underground starlet willing to share her stories about heartbreak and the dancefloor. Then she followed up with ‘Little Red’- which gave us a snapshot into her life after achieving success whilst still under strobe lights backed by electronic dance beats.
Her recent album Honey came from locking herself away in a musical hive on a project that initially was a chance for her to work with people she wanted to get into the studio with and then turned into a proper album. Honey has 21 collaborators, including producers KAYTRANADA, MAJOR LAZER, GEENUS & THE HEAVYTRACKERS, which are really exciting names. So I sat down and listened to the album for the first time and gave some instant reviews of the tracks that I hoped were smooth like Honey!
- HONEY- KAYTRANADA
Katy is basically telling a potential lover to make their move and do less talking and more action. I remember when I watched her perform this track on the live lounge for Trever Nelson at BBC Radio 1xtra and he couldn’t praise her voice enough. Honey is such a hypnotic and smooth track, a synth pulses like honey dripping from a jar and it really takes you somewhere. Her tone really is at the forefront here over a subtle hip hop beat, and when she sings “taste it baby” it’s all over, just too sexy.
- WHO AM I – CRAIG DAVID x MAJOR LAZER
Katy & Craig David sing sadly how they don’t have a purpose without their lovers in their lives. I know this track underwhelmed a lot of people because it wasn’t the blazing beat thumper that Major Lazer usually produces but I quite like the restraint of the production here. I loved their harmonies which really compliments the mellow R&B feel of the track.
- SO FAR AWAY- WILKINSON x STAMINA MC
“You give me such a good feeling” – sums up this trippy electronic and drum & bass hybrid of a track. When it got to about the 1 minute mark it lets loose with the beat and you just have to move. I did think the part of the chorus which just repeats “We’re so far away” was slightly too repetitive. But the bridge where she urgently sings “hold me feel me keep me warm” is my favourite moment.
- CHASE ME- Sasha Keable x JD. Reid
This song speaks on the reluctance of giving your love away so easily and is a chill R&B electro track with a sparse trap like beat, I love the dark vibe it gives off. Sasha Keable is a great addition to the track and if you love female collaborations, this is one for you!
- LOSE YOUR HEAD- The HeavyTrackerz x J Hus x D Double E
This track continues that dark vibe with its grime influences, Katy calls for everyone listening to “Lose your head when you hear me on the microphone”. Definitely a track for the inner roadman within you, I like the beat but the guest rap verses don’t quite work for me and is the first misstep on the album. Katy is 100% feeling herself by the end of the track, boasting “no one does it like me”, although it’s not my favourite I do like that she experimented with the sound.
- I WANNA BE- Chris Lorenzo
Katy struggles here to come out the “friend zone” and reveal her true feelings about a person she’s interested in. The electronic dance beat begins really distant and then rises as her emotions become stronger. She passionately sings “I wanna be where my dreams transpire, don’t leave me here in the dark”, definitely one of my favourite lyrics. When the beat drops the song really comes to life as a house inspired dance track which had me head bopping along, one of the highlights so far.
- Calm Down- Four Tet x Floating Points
The dance vibe continues but adopts a funky house beat, she sounds in the zone here exclaiming all she wants to do is “dance” and “get down”. There is so much going on with the production, one minute there’s twinkly electro blips, then the beat warps and violin strings all play at the same time, as if the rush of partying becomes too much. Less focus on her vocals here, this is a track purely to dance to; I left my notepad and tried my best to bust a move.
- Heavy- Mitch
Speaks on how someone’s presence in your life weighs you down physically and emotionally, I like when she sings “Stay heavy…under your thumb” over the sparse beat. What sounds like an exhaling breath is over the track and it is great as you really hear how much pressure she is under.In the middle of the song, she sings with a flow like a rapper which is my favourite moment. This lyric is everything“Pacing back and forth Like a crazy arse bitch, you’re the cure, you’re the cause Of my misery”.
- Turn the Music Louder (Rumble)- KDA
Not hard to see why this was her first number one with Tine Tempah as its very catchy, I like the beat in this one but it is slightly generic and slightly disrupts the flow of the album. I do like how she showcases a real power to her voice that she hasn’t before. My favourite moment is when she delivers that power note when she sings “Still I can’t get enough” and the beat comes back in and doesn’t let up.
- Dark delirium- Jamie Jones x Kate Simko
My highlights on this album have been the darker sounding tracks and this continues the electro R&B vibe as she needs someone to take her out of a dark place in her life. The string, piano and the harp really add something really beautiful to the song and reminds me of the atmospheric songs on her previous albums “Stay Down” and “Go Away”. My favourite lyric is “I’m ’bout to cross the border line, Who knows now what’s awaiting”.
- Water Rising- MssingNo x Geeneus
Here my concentration with listening to the album started to dip but the beat of ‘Water Rising’ held me on. She speaks on the emotions you experience when you have to break up with someone and you both know it’s coming but don’t know “Who gon’ say it first”. I found myself really focusing on the lyrics of this song as they are sung over a mellow drumbeat, definitely the saddest moment on the album. Favourite lyric “No one said it would be easy saying goodbye, when you still know me best. So I just can’t let you see me cry” pass me the Kleenex!
- Dreamers- Hannah Wants
A song about living out your dreams in reality and realising the power that you hold inside, I really love this message, so naturally I gravitated to this song as she calls “leave us to be us”. This song is all about loving life and the production on this track just feels free and just makes you want to dance. It’s a euphoric close to the album before its Outro, live in your truth people!
- Honey (Outro)- Novelist x Geeneus
Her rap like flow is back again and is enchanting as she sings about how far she’s come from “shows to studios to clubs to pirate radio” and what matters most to her about life and music. Novelist features on this and I like how he raps about how music takes him away from stress when it all gets too much, I can definitely relate to that. The production swirls with an electric guitar strumming in the background, it has such a calming vibe as Katy says she feels “just fine” now that she’s “made the honey”, it’s an assured end to the album.
Honey was less about trying to build upon the commercial success of ‘Crying For No Reason’ and ‘Turn The Music Louder’, it feels like a statement piece about making music that she simply enjoys.
When you look at this piece of work as a traditional album it does lack cohesiveness and consistency because it has different producers for every track, so it is not as strong as her first two albums. However, what I do feel is consistent, is that Katy’s voice remains at the forefront of the production on the album.
It’s more of a collection of well-produced relatable and diverse songs about her fears, love for music and partying, she discusses the breakdown of relationships but also enjoying the feeling of love. Music gives you such a great feeling when you listen to tracks you enjoy and even when you don’t enjoy it, you still have an opinion. What Katy does with Honey, is give you a feeling whether you like it or you don’t, take her labour of love for what it is.
My Favourite Tracks– Honey, I Wanna Be, Dark Delirium & Dreamers