Royal Jelly is the latest record by Kyle Swan and his new crew The Honeybrew. Swan and his gravelly grousing are aided and abetted by guitarist Robben Ford, Karl Hunter of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the rhythm section of upright bassist Scott Hughes and drummer Scott Belsha, horn skronkers Evan Mackey and Ruben Salinas, and backing voices Becca Fuchs and Sophie Holt. Swan’s contributions — lyrics, guitar and keyboards — in no way impinge or infringe upon his fellow Honeybrewers, but do in fact work in tandem with all sounds on Royal Jelly to make something greater than the sum of its rather refreshing parts. With song titles like “Nuclear Rhumba,” “Fancy Robots” and “Lizard in the Sun,” you’d be forgiven if you thought that this was some kind of self-reflexively wacky, chocolate cheesecake kind of fusion jazz. Untrue. There’s a joy of discovery that happens when players find others of the same breed and creed. It’s a joy that’s amplified when it becomes clear that the musical talents of everyone involved mesh and gel as if it were so decreed from on high. Laid-back and anxious, effusive and tense, these songs work as a test of the tastes of your future longtime companion or brooding soundtracks for moonlight drives. 

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