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Starsailor – Love is Here

Capitol Records, 2002

Picking up an album that has songs like “Lullaby” and “Love is Here” usually induces my gag reflex, but sometimes the price dictates the irresponsibility.  Starsailor’s debut album didn’t cost me a full buck, which really helps to stoke the free-wheelin’ fires that tend to keep my wallet warm.  I could say that I went off the deep end that day, but that’s another story for another time.  I will say that regardless of the price the album cover has a bright, yet desolate, vibe.  Include the color scheme as well as the cliched line of ‘where is my life’s train track going?’ and the cover made me feel that Starsailor was going to try and beautify and enrich my listening experience.   Well, either that or this is the view of the listener tied and bound to a train track while Starsailor cackles from afar.  Someone save me?

The album begins solemnly enough with “Tie Up My Hands” and … hey, wait, tie up my hands?!  I AM on the train track!  Someone get me out of here I’m with Starsailor and they are rubbing their hands evilly and (slap, slap) okay … okay … to continue.  The lead singer, James Walsh, pops in and curiously sounds like the guy from Swell Season.  It’s got a high pitch that quivers at its peak and contains the yearning necessary for the given song content.  Considering that the voice never wavers from this approach, it could get a little stale and ineffective as one is swept along from song to song.

Though “Hands” is a quieter track, Starsailor tends to aim for mid-level.  The band builds and maintains a comfortable tempo on tracks like “Poor Misguided Fool” and “Lullaby”, accentuated with a consistent inclusion of piano.  Most tracks are introduced with said piano as a quiet beginning, only to inevitably build up to a swirling pop concoction as evidenced in the popular British single “Fever”.  Really, if you listen to that track on itself you’ll know whether or not you’ll be into Starsailor at all, for it has got all of Starsailor’s musical tricks and choices wrapped into four minutes.

Other songs, like “Way to Fall”, pick up really nicely more than halfway through, but it’s a long three and a half minutes before getting there.  “Talk Her Down” is a great song until the nasally quivering exit. Oof, bad aftertaste.  Finally, given that this is an album that was released in the early 2000’s and certain gimmicks were still around, there’s a hidden track.  But Starsailor blows it.  The hidden track shows up after more than ten minutes of waiting and, surprise, you wait all that time to hear the guys get together and hum for less than a minute. I roll my eyes at you and your decision making, Starsailor.

Given their longevity, Starsailor is all over the place on the internet.  Check out their website, MySpace or Last.fm site if you want to experience some modern British pop.

I guess these guys were noted as a big upcoming band in England during the time that this record was released, and despite what one may think of the vocals and quality of their music they are still releasing albums with modest success.  One could say that Starsailor is wonderful for some people but a little overdone for others, so that means that Starsailor will always find an audience as long as they keep doing what they’re doing.  However, it seems that the group is on haitus so Walsh can pursue a solo career.  Doesn’t that always seem to happen?

Whether it’s the band or the solo artist, Starsailor is still around in some form after a decade.  Therefore, if you end up following Starsailor’s train track into the distance rest assured it’ll probably be a long ride.  Unless, of course, they’ve tied you to that train track.  Then you don’t have long, my pretty.

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