Friday, October 25, 2013
REVIEW: Star Anna - Go to Hell
On her solo release, Go to Hell, Seattle's Star Anna channels the voice of a raw, tortured angel. Betrayed, disappointed and, at times, angry. Bruised, at least on the inside, she is as real as real gets. She may have had a few knocks, but she isn't a loser. And amid the betrayal and regret, there is hope. Star works the intersection of the gritty end of Americana, country blues and honky tonk. She writes good songs, picks excellent supporting players and then unleashes her wonderful vocal instrument -- powerful, emotive and always sounding like it is on the verge of breaking. I think if you were to commission acoustic scientists to come up with the perfect voice for this kind of music, the laboratory would send back a note simply stating "Star Anna".
Star Anna has released a trio of excellent prior albums, the third with her backing band under the name Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs (our post for Alone in This Together), and for those records she sang and played guitar. For Go to Hell, Star concentrates on vocals. Her main collaborator was Ty Baille, who co-wrote, produced and played piano and keys. Jeff Fielder played guitar, Julian McDonough drummed, William Moore was on bass, and Jacques Willis provided vibraphone on the title track.
Go to Hell includes songs that will be familiar to her more country oriented fans (for example, "Electric Lights" and "Mean Kind of Love") and rockers ("Let Me Be", "Smoke Signals" and "For Anyone"). She shows her pop chops on the grand "Everything You Know", and for "Power of Love" Star hits a groove I'd call honky tonk pop. And sometimes, she is pure fun; check out the live version of track nine, a Tom Waits cover.
I don't generally note the endorsements of others in my reviews, but in this case I'll make an exception and point out that Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready is an outspoken admirer (and frequent accompanist), and Duff McKagan of Guns and Roses and Velvet Revolver is a notable supporter as well.
The opening track -
The title track -
Live version of Tom Waits' "Come On Up to the House" -
Go to Hell was released in late September via Spark & Shine Records
Spark and Shine