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Star City | Inside The Other Days (Star City)
Star City take their name, not from the bright lights of the Big Apple where they're based, but from a town in West Virginia, the home state of principal member Jason Lewis. Such incongruity is undoubtedly an element of the band's appeal. Although, having recently undergone something of an overhaul in the line-up department, with only Lewis and guitarist David Chernis surviving from the band's 1999 self-titled debut, it's the addition of the three newest members, drummer Nancy Polstein, bass player Scott Yoder and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Karg that seems to have really fleshed out their sound and helped to develop that appeal even further. A much more fully realised work than their debut, the production by Dave Amels and Dennis Diken (Smithereens) aka Husky Team, adds depth and substance without overwhelming the material. Lyrically ambiguous at times and superficially following traditional country rock influences, repeated listening unveils an album of hidden depth and subtlety, the core of which is the voice of Lewis, which is a majestic instrument of communication. From his understated near-whisper on the gently ambient These Little Pills, his semi-spoken resignation on Again or his more fully rounded intonation on upbeat opener Town And Country or the rock swagger on the Stones-like Rabbit Scared, his vocals are never less than captivating. As much as Lewis' songwriting and voice are an intrinsic part of Star City's make-up, in no way should the rest of the band's contributions be overlooked. Polstein and Yoder, (who's also a member of Tandy), are the epitome of rhythmic proficiency and both Chernis' and Karg's musical flair and invention underline why this album is such a thrill. Occasionally sombre yet frequently invigorating 'Inside The Other Days' is a bold leap forward for Star City and is destined, for me at least, to become the aural equivalent of a well-thumbed novel. But hey, don't just take my word for it, go buy you own copy. You won 't be disappointed.
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002