Artist Spotlight

Review: Star Anna, “Go To Hell”

No Comments 6 October 2013

Review: Star Anna, “Go To Hell”

Go To Hell is not the kind of record that comes easy or without the prices paid for past mistakes, and it’s that fractured beauty and self-discovery as an artist and woman that shines brightly. Star’s journey as an artist and individual is laid out bare here, and while there is a great deal of raw emotion on display, there is a crafted quality to this collection of songs.”

Artist: Star Anna

Album: Go To Hell

Genre: Rock / Blues / Folk

RIYL: Brandi Carlile, Chrissie Hynde, Susan Tedeschi

Star Anna Go To Hell

Rock and roll is about many things for many people, but I’ve always found that discovery and catharsis make the most impactful art. I was not surprised when these qualities showed themselves about three seconds into the first track of Star Anna’s new release, Go To Hell. I know her work. I’ve seen her sing live. But I was still completely unprepared for it to resonate so fully and insistently upon the first listen.

“For Anyone” stomps into a groove that establishes (quickly) that this record is a personal journey for our leading lady. Weaving serious vocals with serious keyboards, it’s an appropriate introduction to an artist who defies conventional categorization. “Go To Hell” is a strong, surprising song that dodges and weaves in subtle ways that feel new, fresh and incredibly focused. With this song, Star feels like she’s circling around something, hence the unpredictable movement of the melody, and then honing in with a resolution that brings unbridled emotion to her vocal work. “Electric Lights” moves in with a lighter touch, a slightly ‘70s guitar rock vibe to it, and sticks as a standout track.

“Let Me Be” is another strong track that finds Star harnessing that powerful voice and moving playfully through the melody and adding great interplay with backing vocals. “Let Me Be” showcases her seasoned songwriting skills with co-writer Shane Tutmarc. “Mean Kind of Love” shows off another side of Star, a vulnerability coexisting with the type of self-knowledge that only comes with experience. It’s instantly relatable and heartbreakingly raw, a folk-rock gem. “Power of My Love” is perfection, from top to bottom; it’s a soulful, vocal masterpiece that brings the blues to its knees with power and grace.

What impresses me the most about this record, however, is the depth and deft touch Star displays with Go To Hell. “Everything You Know” is one of those tracks that shows the versatility and maturity of her development as an artist. The flow and massive wall of sound coupled with a vocal restraint makes this complex song seem effortless. “Smoke Signals” moves with urgency and visceral energy that radiates out of the speakers. And the wonderful cover of Tom Waits’ “Come On Up To The House” brings Star into her natural element, featuring torchy, bluesy vocals that make it her own. While this record covers a variety of styles (rock, blues, folk, country), the connective thread of storytelling makes it all work in cohesive harmony.

This release is Star Anna’s coming out party; her split with her backing band has given birth to an experimentation that was missing with the safety of performing with such a solid supporting cast. There’s no denying that voice, but the evolution of her songwriting from her previous work with the Laughing Dogs is really what stands out here. Go To Hell is not the kind of record that comes easy or without the prices paid for past mistakes, and it’s that fractured beauty and self-discovery as an artist and woman that shines brightly. Star’s journey as an artist and individual is laid out bare here, and while there is a great deal of raw emotion on display, there is a crafted quality to this collection of songs. If you’re one who “lets the stars be your guide” then you would do well to let this Star share her lessons learned and pick up this record.


Star Anna website: http://www.staranna.com/home.cfm

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