Airstreams & Satellites Album reviews.
Release Date: 02.17.04
Record label: Vanguard
Not Quite Country, Not Quite Not Country
by: matt cibula
“Hey, girl / It’s a beautiful day / For flying / Don’t you wanna open your eyes? / You’re dying.” Words like this, sung by a not-amazing singer to a kind of folk-country melody, used to make me run screaming. But Garrison Starr, a young songwriter from Mississippi and Memphis and Los Angeles, pulls it off. How, I’m not exactly sure.
First thing is, I guess, that her songs seem very organic and personal. Part of this is, I think, that she’s already had a shot at being the New Cool Thing (six years ago, with Eighteen Over Me), failed kinda, and walked away to go find some perspective. This perspective has helped her to absorb pop and rock and country and folk and maybe a little bit of R&B; “Wonderful Thing” and “Gasoline” seem to have sprung up from everywhere, pretty and perfect and ready for AAA radio.
Second thing is, for sure, that she knows her strengths and plays to them. We’ve heard songs like “Like a Drug,” about her love, which she doesn’t wanna give up, a million times. But she doesn’t get lazy on the verses, singing about going “from Silverlake to Houston”, talking about betrayal and lack of motivation, making the song sound like a conversation with a messed-up friend. With hooks and riffs from God.
And that’s the third thing: Garrison Starr knows how to write a song that sounds like a damn SONG. The poppy radio stuff is tight—slashing Clashy guitars on “Superhero” and “One-Sided”! morose strumming and sad country crooning with mellotrons on “Runner Up”! And when she stretches it out and gets kinda experimental, like on the title track, she still has an ear open to alt.country and jazz. (Janet Robin’s electric guitar work doesn’t hurt either.)
So yeah, this is a great album. Dammit, now I have another interesting young singer/songwriter to pay attention to. What are you people trying to do, kill me? 03-Mar-2004 7:40 AM