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Thursday, June 09, 2011

June 9, 2011
Scott Foley

Most musical comparisons fall flat for me. Seems every female singer-songwriter must be compared to Joni Mitchell; any male vocalist with a slight rasp is immediately damned "the next Dylan." How many female artists have been needlessly likened to Lucinda Williams? Is there a law that female artists must necessarily be equated with other women, or vice versa with men? So I try to avoid them whenever possible.

Still, if they're wielded with care, musical comparisons can be helpful for the sake of bearings. Seattle area artist Star Anna, f'rinstance, might be plotted at the intersection of Brandi Carlile and Melissa Etheridge. Nevertheless, this feels like I'm leaving out a significant part of Star Anna's appeal. On her third CD, Alone In This Together, she demonstrates the passionate vocal chops of a Brandi, along with more rock elements a'la early Melissa. Her band, the Laughing Dogs, is a tight bunch, playing a bigger part in the overall sound than their secondary booking might imply, especially guitarist Justin Davis.

Over the span of three albums, Star Anna's musical vision has grown from the country-blues of her debut to the blues-inflected roots rock of this strong new CD. With the right exposure, there's no reason she couldn't become the one to whom everyone else is being compared. In the end, I'd just as soon not have to make any dissatisfying musical comparisons, and have you give Star Anna + the Laughing Dogs a listen.

* Casey James Prestwood, "Cowboy Peyton Place" Falling Apart at the Seams (Self, 11)
* Fleet Foxes, "Bedouin Dress" Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop, 11)
* Tedeschi Trucks Band, "Don't Let It Slide" Revelator (Sony Legacy, 11)
* Jolie Holland, "Gold and Yellow" Pint of Blood (Anti, 11)
* Matt Bauer, "Blacklight Horses" Jessamine County Book of the Living (Crossbill, 11)
* Old Crow Medicine Show, "Tell It To Me" OCMS (Nettwerk, 04)
* Joe Ely, "Highway Is My Home" Satisfied At Last (Rack 'Em, 11)
* Drag the River, "Medicine" Closed (Upland, 02)
* Justin Townes Earle, "Slippin' and Slidin'" Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot, 10)
* Old 97s, "I'm a Trainwreck" Grand Theatre Vol 2 (New West, 11)
* Caitlin Rose, "Spare Me (Fetzer's Blues)" Own Side Now (Theory 8, 11)
* Haunted Windchimes, "Don't Be Afraid" Live At the Western Jubilee (Blank Tape, 11)
* Frank Turner, "If Ever I Stray" England Keep My Bones (Epitaph, 11)
* Possessed By Paul James, "Old Man Souls" Feed the Family (Hillgrass Bluebilly, 10)
* Low Anthem, "Hey All You Hippies" Smart Flesh (Nonesuch, 11)
* Frank Fairfield, "But That's Alright" Out In the Open West (Tompkins Square, 11)
* Jimmie Dale Gilmore + the Wronglers, "In the Pines" Heirloom Music (Neanderthal, 11)
* Jill Andrews, "Sinking Ship" Mirror (Liam, 11)
* Sam Quinn, "Suite Motown" Fake That Sunk a Thousand Ships (Ramseur, 10)
^ Star Anna, "Shine" Alone In This Together (Local 638, 11)
* Von Ehrics, "Last Of the Working Slobs" Two Foot Stomp (Lucky Buck, 11)
* Quiet American, "Carolina" Quiet American Vol 2 (Self, 11)
* Greencards, "Said and Done" Brick Album (Darling St, 11)
* Dawes, "If I Wanted Someone" Nothing Is Wrong (ATO, 11)
* Vetiver, "Wonder Why" Errant Charm (Sub Pop, 11)

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