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CD REVIEW: The Starlings - Songbook
By Kevin Zarnett - 04/27/2006 - 06:58 PM EDT

Artist: The Starlings
Album: Songbook
CD Review: Simply put, fans of the Americana genre will be interested in hearing The Starlings debut Songbook. Based out of Seattle, this five-piece expertly blends folk and country, displaying top-notch musicianship at every turn. Songbook is filled with harmonies, flourishes of dobro and mandolin, rolling banjo's, and a nice mix of front-porch foot stomping and back-room balladry.

"Tell me a story..." are the words that open the CD, and indeed main vocalist and primary songwriter Joy Mills has a way of offering a tale that is often poetic, but in an accessible way, steeped in language and subject matter that is familiar to the genre. Vocalist/guitarist Tom Parker contributes two of his songs as well.

Mills does have the kind of voice that can carry an entire CD, at times taking little melodic leaps that create some excitement in the choruses, but there are plenty of backing vocals to lend support. Central in this regard is the harmony between Mills and Parker, but there is also some three-part from drummer Aimee Zoe Tubbs and group-style singalongs. The harmonies are effective and enhance the overall effort, especially on the songs where Parker is the lead vocalist, though not quite at the goose-bump level (though the Parker written Acorn comes close).

With the exception of the somber Sinner's Glory, the middle of the CD seems somewhat ordinary, though still musical and well-performed; mostly because the first four or five tunes are so colorful and arresting. The disc ends strong, with a fine cover of Long Black Veil, the rousing desire of Travelin' and the pretty, duet closer Acorn.

For more information on The Starlings, visit: www.starlingsmusic.com
To purchase Songbook, visit: CD Baby or Sonic Boom Records


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