Shawn Starski


Guitarist extraordinaire Starski’s roots go back to his early teens, playing bass in a Detroit church band. He evolved as a guitarist in Florida through blues-rock and jump/swing outfits, before serving a seven-year tour of duty with Memphis-based prog blues combo Jason Ricci and New Blood. For the last couple of years, he’s toured and/or recorded with kindred blues performers including pianist-singer Kelley Hunt, former Little Feat singer Shaun Murphy and banjoist-guitarist-singer Otis Taylor.

Now settled in Nashville with his wife, Elle (who has her own group, Elle and the Fine Lines), Starski has established a solo career with this impressive self-titled release.

Among many standout tracks is “Means Nothing Now,” a blues shuffle about a company man laid off by his employer after years of dedicated service. Insult is added to injury when the protagonist tries to drown his sorrow at the local tavern and the barkeep tells him to pay up or get out. It’s one of three songs featuring an alternate rhythm section of drummer Jimi Goglesong and bassist Geoff Newhall. For the rest of the album, Todd Edmunds and Steve Johnson supply bass and drums, respectively.

Wife Elle takes over vocals on “Cry Baby” and “The Truth” — and with a sultry voice like that, it’s easy to see why Starski was attracted to her.

Many albums include an instrumental or two, but Starski literally jazzes things up with a pair of tunes that are like syncopated islands in a sea of blues rock: On “Hallows Eve” he sounds like a sinister Wes Montgomery, supported by Edmunds’ sublime walking bass, producer/engineer Phil Wolfe’s subtle organ and vibelike keyboards, and the whisper-to-scream honking of guest saxophonist Cole Bergus.

The other instro, “For Us,” smolders in the vein of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s cover of Robert Geddins’ “Tin Pan Alley.”

Starski covers himself on “How It Come To Be,” originally on Jason Ricci and New Blood’s 2009 disc, “Done With the Devil,” on which Starski and New Blood drummer Ed Michaels were given one song apiece to sing lead on. Here it’s transformed from an unplugged dobro showcase to an electric slide extravaganza.

Spanning many subgenres of blues, rock and jazz guitar, this eponymous debut is sure to get Starski noticed. As the saying goes: The future is wide open.

1. Sea Of Faces
2. Was It You
3. Dirty Deal
4. For Us
5. Cry Baby
6. How It Come To Be
7. The Truth
8. Means Nothing Now
9. Hallows Eve
10. Sweet Cherry Rose

Total time: 39:00

External links
artist’s website
CD Baby
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