Thursday, April 24, 2008

Review: Star Anna - Crooked Paths

Label: Malamute Records

Released: March 4, 2008

Crooked Paths is an album that is seldom just good. Instead, it sometimes struggles just short of good and at other times pushes fantastic. Without question, Star Anna's voice is wonderful. It's dynamic and has really good movement that can be both subtle and bold. The problem is she doesn't let it loose often enough. The opener, "If Wishes Were Horses," plays it entirely too safe, hanging out in the adult alternative end of the pool. "Black Cat Blues" adds some grittiness, but it isn't until the title track that the album really taps into emotion, being somewhat reminiscent of "Sitting Around Waiting to Die." From there, the album's heart rises and falls with her willingness to trust her voice. In the best moments, she can incorporate soul into her country twang. At her worst, she wanders through countrified alt pop. The band is entirely competent, but also utilitarian, lacking the same trust that Star lacks in her weaker moments.

Crooked Paths certainly has its moments, but by and large, it misses its mark, if just barely. Star Anna's voice is rich, but she plays it safe too often and the result is an album that has far too much adult appeal. It's almost as if she's a bit afraid of her country roots and has dummied it down for people who don't want to work to appreciate good music. She shouldn't be afraid though, because that's all that stands between her and a fantastic record.

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 6/10
Aretha: 4/10
Overall: 5/10



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