One of the trickiest things to do in music is combine influences without sounding derivative. It takes true skill, focus, and cohesion of minds to channel multiple genres into a fresh, genuine and organic new identity. On its second LP, Humorous to Bees, Little Tybee has done just that. With a wonderful blend of styles and a fun, free vibe, the album is a joy to hear.
The foundation of Atlanta’s Little Tybee lies in the core songwriting of vocalist/guitarist/pianist Brock Scott. After he composes the outlines, the rest of the gang (guitarist Josh Martin, violinist Nirvana Kelly, bassist Ryan Donald, and percussionist Pat Brooks) help expand them. Little Tybee may best be classified as an orchestral pop group with a foundation in bluegrass, blues, jazz, and soul. They’re quite a melting pot, and luckily, these varied backgrounds culminate in a wonderful spirit and heartfelt tone.
The title track opens the album with a brief poem recited over acoustic guitar. The track segues into “Strong Ears” with light percussion before a calm melody, slide guitar, mellow bass, elegant violin, and simple harmonies develop the song. Scott’s vocals are one of the best aspects of Little Tybee; he exudes a fragile and soulful coolness with every word, and his band provides perfect accompaniment. The album’s single, “Nero,” is easily a highlight thanks to its catchy, sorrowful melody and mysterious music. However, the best song on Humorous to Bees is “Revolution.” Its haunting, recurring piano riff, clever wordplay, and vocal melody carries the piercing storytelling style of Tori Amos, and the way the other instruments bring an affective layer is sublime. Few tracks are this intimate and involving in modern music.
What’s most special about Humorous to Bees is how it lends itself to several situations. Most of the songs have a danceable quality, but at the same time, they’re intricate and intelligent enough lyrically to stop you in place for close analysis and listening. For example, “The Wind Will Blow You Love” builds to a beautifully affective moment similar to Ben Folds’ great “Kylie from Connecticut. “ Every song on here is expertly arranged to be instantly accessible while also revealing new things with each listen.
Humorous to Bees is a perfect example of how great music can be if artists believe in themselves and follow their unique directions. The album packages introspection and an array of themes into an uninhibited, free spirited casing. It’s amazing how well the diverse styles work together, and overall, Humorous to Bees proves that Little Tybee is a very intriguing act deserving of the media spotlight.
Check out their video for “Nero” here!