CD Reviews: Review of The Sound of You and Me by Garrison Starr

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The Sound of You and Me
starstarstarno starno star Label: Vanguard
Released: 2006
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Mississippi native singer/songwriter Garrison Starr released her Vanguard Records debut in 2004 after a few major label releases in the late nineties. Airstreams and Satellites showcased Starr’s penchant for writing hooky pop/rock music, and was backed by walls of guitars that drew comparison to the gritty Melissa Etheridge. Now Starr is back with her sophomore effort for Vanguard, The Sound of You and Me, and this time the overall theme is a more intimate, stripped-down, girl-with-acoustic-guitar theme. With a smooth and soulful voice ala Patty Griffin or Bonnie Raitt, the hooks are still there, though the songs have a bit less impact this time around.

The opening track, “Pendulum,” starts off innocently with guitar and vocal, then morphs into a neat little pop song. “Let Me In” and “Pretending” demonstrate Starr’s ability to blend a yearning theme with upbeat pop hooks—something she does with precision. The piano infused, singsong “Sing It Like a Victim” brings to mind Suzanne Vega. “Beautiful in Los Angeles” is more akin to something from Airstreams, complete with layered guitars and background vocals, a formula that seems to suit Starr best. Some of the melodies and arrangements drag a bit and even seem awkward at times on cuts like “Kansas City, KS” and “Cigarettes and Spearmint,” but Starr rebounds on the melancholy “We Were Just Boys and Girls,” where her vocal ability really comes through.

While The Sound of You and Me is not going to change the world, the songwriting community is still just a bit better having Garrison Starr in it. Fans of any of the above will certainly dig it, as well as anyone who is into Sheryl Crow or Aimee Mann. But here’s hoping her next effort brings back more guitars. It’s not that chicks with acoustic guitars can’t rock, it’s just that such production tends to put artists like Starr in a completely different league.

~Mike Farley