Monday, 2 September 2013

Star Anna - Go To Hell

Album review by

Sometimes having some quite stellar patronage can weigh heavy, and some stumble under this. If Star Anna felt any overbearing sense of expectation, then it's not reflected in her album 'Go to Hell'. Instead the quality and seductiveness of the songs simply highlights what the likes of Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and the ubiquitous Duff McKagan were entranced by. Opener 'For Anyone' is a dust-bowl, acoustic trip akin to Mark Lanegan's early solo records. The song quickly finds its own feet and Star's raw, earthy yet rich voice captivates. We hear of her not "wanting to sing for anyone". As a statement of intent it makes an unforgiving mark. Title-track 'Go To Hell' is the flipside of 'For Anyone''s ride. Here Star manages not to fall into some bitter diatribe as the title may suggest, but delivers a subverted take on a torch song. It has a raw blues undercurrent that lifts the song. The song is sharp and short, and this brevity allows 'Go To Hell' not to become entrenched in bitterness.

'Electric Lights' is a sweeter proposition. It houses an inert sense of hope wrapped up in a delicious light and shade melody and structure. The most accessible song so far, but no weaker for that, it has touches of 'Full Moon Fever' Tom Petty in its luscious grooves. Stomping in on a dirty guitar, 'Let Me Be' hits you hard on two stances. Envelope yourself in the lyrics and you are lost into world were your are torn by betrayal, yet it's tinged by the lingering touches of love where they are asked "can’t you just let me go?". Then that other hit comes from the irresistible dynamics that cocoon 'Let Me Be'. A swirling organ ripples through the song, before standing alone next to some Lindsey Buckingham-esque crunching guitar at the song close. After the barely controlled intensity of 'Let Me Be', 'Mean Kind Of Love' allows us to breath again. A sweet, folk-like, trip, its stripped-back nature allows Star's vocals to shine, while a sublime slide sweetens the song further. It’s a redemptive song that ends with the refrain "never look back". In old fashioned terms it's the perfect place to end side one.

Turning that (metaphorical) black circle over, we are then lead into 'Younger Than', the closest so far to an unashamed love song. It may not just be a tale of a lover, but a longing to a father, sister, telling of a time when all seemed safe and good. A charming, and bewitching song. Somewhere in the short gap between 'Younger Than' and 'Power of My Love' someone has taken us out of the reverie, down to the NOLA's French Quarter, into the bar, drunk a lot of Bourbon and lit a fire. 'Power Of My Love' is a dirty groove-blues, a seductive blast. Star stomping all over, grabbing you and promising you a night you won't forget. A raw rock-soul song in the classic style of Janis and The Faces. If 'Power Of My Love' was the carnal, then 'Everything You Know' is the sound of melting together, nothing else in the world. A mesmerising piano sweeps through the song, until a fury of sound is unleashed on the words "everything is going to die". But it feels more a rebirth, a new start rather than a bitter end. Star faithfully keeps the looseness and idiosyncratic feel of Tom Waits' 'Come On Up To The House'. A fitting choice of cover, but it feels a little unnecessary. Still it is delivered in perfect style. Then when you'd expect some languorous, smoke-filled closing-time song to ebb out the album, we are hit up with the feral, punkiod blitz of 'Smoke Signals'. It is simply a pure "fuck you" ripped with the sound of vindication and strength. 'Go To Hell' is a masterful album that is an all encompassing trip and will seduce and reward over and over.

Free download: 'For Anyone'
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Star Anna's website

Pre-order the album

Catch her live:

FRI 06 SEP The Secret Society, Portland, OR, US
FRI 20 SEP The Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA, US
SAT 12 OCT The Viper Room, West Hollywood, CA, US
WED 06 NOV Dante's, Portland, OR, US
MON 11 NOV Last Exit Live, Phoenix, AZ, US

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