You only have to listen to the powerful voice of Star Anna one time to get sucked into her music. There is magic in that voice from the Washington State musician. With a sound that could easily remind you of the late Rock Hall Member Janis Joplin, Star Anna has that same strong character in her singing style that Joplin’s voice once had. It is that powerful voice and Star Anna’s ability to write strong songs that are the main reasons why the young singer-songwriter has finally been getting attention.
Star Anna has released several CDs over the short time as a songwriter. Having started out as simply “Star Anna,” she has since added her band, the Laughing Dogs, to her moniker. The rest of the band consists of: Justin Davis on guitar and vocals, Keith Ash on bass, Ty Bailie on keyboards and Travis Yost on drums. Together, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs have created the 2011 release, Alone in This Together. And while previous releases featured a style that could have been categorized as “Americana,” the heavier feel to the music on Alone in This Together can only be called Rock and Roll.
Alone in This Together begins with the Justin Davis-penned “Shine”. While the song was written by a guitarist, the song is built mainly around the playing of keyboardist Ty Bailie. And it is the keyboard that makes the song come across as something rather reminiscent of songs from Steve Winwood. The track begins with a gentle feeling to the song before it starts to build. Eventually, all of the musicians involved begin a slow jam.
One of the best tracks on the release by far is the title track. On the song entitled “Alone in This Together,” Star Anna and Justin Davis start the song with only their guitars. As a pair, the two guitars create the basis to a song that comes with a rather beautiful melody to it. About two minutes into the song, the song takes on a different feeling as the pace quickens. It’s at this point that the musicians add a lot of energy to the album. The song even includes a solo from Pearl Jam’s own Mike McCready that really kicks up the energy. Along with being one of the strongest tracks, it is also the longest, allowing the listener to really enjoy the playing and interaction of all of the musicians, as well as the singing from Star Anna, herself.
“Time” is one track on Alone in This Together where you get to experience the band letting loose. With this track, the band takes their sound into a direction that brings to mind Rock and Roll music from the eighties. And while other tracks on the album build to a point before the band gets into a groove, “Time” starts strong and just keeps going. The playing of the band members, the singing of Star Anna, and the message of moving on make for a strong track that feels like a single.
Another moment on Alone in This Together where you hear Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs just let loose and give it all they’ve got is on the song “Wolves in Disguise”. The guitars from Star Anna and Justin Davis, along with the organ from Ty Bailie create another strong groove on the album. And the solo from Mike McCready once again adds an additional amount of energy that helps make a strong track even stronger.
Every album must come to an end, and of course, Alone in This Together is no different. But for the last track on this release, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs slow down the pace while keeping the energy level up on the track “High Water”. The final song features Justin Davis on guitar and Ty Bailie once again playing the organ. The bluesy feel to the music and the lyrics create a song that gives the newest album from Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs a real feeling of closure.
As a bonus track, the title track of “Alone in This Together” is included at the end of the CD in a shortened “radio edit”. The inclusion of the shortened version of the track makes the album almost bookended as the original version of the track came near the very beginning of the album and then it reappeared in a shortened version at the very end of the album.
Alone in This Together, the newest release from Star Anna and her backing band the Laughing Dogs, features ten original tracks and one track shortened for airplay. The resulting album features strong playing, strong vocals, and a musical spirit that brings to mind music from the time when the music now called Classic Rock was being produced. This album is proof that there are still artists out there who know how to create real Rock and Roll.
Visit Star Anna’s record label, Local 683 Records.
Not long ago, Washington State-based Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs finally made their way to Cleveland. It was at the Brothers Lounge that the Cleveland area got their first exposure to this talented band. And when the band took to the main stage, you could see many of the people look up from the bar to listen to the music.
For me, it was a please to finally get to experience Star Anna in concert, having written my first article on her three years previous to that concert date. So when Star Anna and the band took to the stage, it was more about the concert experience for me than it was about checking out new music from a new band- I had my initiation to their music years before. For those who had never heard of Star Anna before that concert, she and the band spent the hour or so on stage playing a nice mix of music from Star Anna’s catalog of music. While most of the songs like “Time” and “For When I Go” came from the latest CD of Alone in This Together, the night also contained songs like “All of Her Ghosts” and “Through the Winter,” which came from Star Anna’s last CD entitled The Only Thing That Matters. The band even included “Devil Don’t Remember My Name,” a personal favorite of mine, which was included on the 2008 release, Crooked Path.
The most response, however, came when the band played the title track from the latest release. On “Alone in This Together,” Star Anna and the rest of the band all but blew the doors off of the Greater Cleveland venue. The power that was produced from the band on the song, as well as from the audience afterwards, made the song the most memorable moment of the evening.
The hour-long set from Star Anna at the Brothers Lounge and the Laughing Dogs that night at the Brothers Lounge was over too soon. Hopefully, it won’t be that long before the band comes back again for another concert in the Cleveland area.
Click HERE for a live performance of “Alone in This Together”.