All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
Garrison Starr follows Mindy Smith onto the Vanguard Records roster. Vanguard has been carefully crafting an artist list with smart, edgy female singer/songwriters who are more Lucinda Williams and less Shawn Colvin. With Ms. Smith they have mostly been meeting with success. Now Hernando, Mississippi native Garrison Starr mixes things up with her new release, Airstreams & Satellites, a collection of moody, slickly produced in-your-face-songs about complicated love and the hopeful ahead.
Ms. Starr first reached the airways with her 1996 debut Stupid Girl. Geffen Records subsequently picked her up, perhaps, in the eyes of the suits, promising to be the next Melissa Etheridge, except this time more mainstream and country. After two recordings with Geffen, Ms. Starr returned to indie labels with the very well received Songs from Take-off to Landing on Back Porch Records. On Airstreams & Satellites, little is left of the country promise. She, like Mindy Smith, is trying to carve out a place in the unforgiving 21st Century country/fold/adult contemporary crossover market.
The songs are provocative. "Gasoline" might be major updating of the blues tune, "I Asked for Water," where Ms. Starr sings over a retro-industrial purr:
You wrapped your arms around me and I woke up soaked in gasoline...
This is the song Howlin’ Wolf would have sung, he had been a white woman in the new South. "Superhero" is the Nirvana hard rock salute to childhood, a kind of cyber- To Kill A Mockingbird. "Underneath the Wheel" is a pleasant acoustic tome lamenting of love running out of fuel too early. These are great songs with catchy riffs and hooks. I hope this music has what it takes to put a crack into the armor of the current popular music market. God knows someone must do it.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.