It’s been said before but bears repeating: Andi Starr is one of those L.A.-based artists who—upon first listen—might make you wonder why she isn’t a household name. Starr is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Starr is an indie artist who does not benefit from huge corporate campaigns pushing her material into popular culture through overexposed music videos and flooding the radio with pre-planned “singles”. Instead she relies on her persistence, performances and actual talent. The most recent example of said talent is her new 11-track Ladera Records release Entrance.
Starr leads the way with her vocals, guitars, harmonica and keyboards. She is backed by an assortment of artists including Tim Young (electric guitar), Dave Palmer (keys), Paul Bryan (bass), Scott Seiver (drums), Joey Change (cello) and John Richter (electric/synth. guitars). The 38-plus minute album opens on “Let You Go.” This is the first of many songs that include lyrics co-written by prize-winning poet S. Asher Sund.
The second selection is “Jealousy”. Starr has just begun (almost literally). Her signature sound remains in evidence but as she moves into “Honey Bee (Sorry)” it becomes apparent that things have happened in her life since her last CD.
The next number is “Diamond Sea”. It’s appropriately named because it truly shines. She is joined by some guest artists on “Driving for the Sun”. This one was co-composed with Jeremy Fanders, Madison Christine, Gregg Hardy and Nicholas Hall and focuses on Sund’s poetry. It is highlighted by co-producer Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp) on lap steel and Bob Bishop on background vocals.
“Resignation II” is one of the tracks that have a literary lean to it. This should come as no surprise to those who read the album credits (first). In fact, this is actually Starr’s tuneful take on a poem by Alex Ehrenreich Husted Brockdorff and includes verses from the poem of the same name.
The “book beat” continues in “Just Kids”. Somehow Starr having an interest in Patti Smith is not only unsurprising but somehow fitting. “Just Kids” includes quotes from Patti Smith’s memoir of the same name. Darrell Hicks provides background vocals on a song that Starr musically makes her own.
“Glory, Ohio” follows. This one is fleshed out with the inclusion of Todd Hannigan on baritone guitar, Ben Yates on harmonica and acoustic guitar work by Kevin Whalen. Whalen, in fact co-composed the music in fact.
“Sing Along” is yet one more cut with that literary lean. Here Starr sets co-producer Sund’s poetry to music in another memorable musical moment. Also included here is “Hold Me Now” which is perhaps one of the best tracks on the disc.
The closing cut is “Entrance”. Why the title track is the album end-note is unknown but while it seems initially odd Starr makes it work. John Richter straps on acoustic guitar here to give the track a slightly different feel.
The material here may at times seem like it’s coming from a dark place. However, the truth is Starr is one of those writers who strips herself naked and makes writing a cathartic experience. This could explain why the project sounds like something she truly enjoyed recording.
It’s almost as if Starr has no other way to express herself to others outside of the studio. In fact there is also an element of unique strangeness that expresses Starr perhaps reaching for something she has not yet reached. It all makes her music more personal and listeners can connect with her. So check out Andi Starr’s Entrance. You just might feel the urge to “Sing Along”.