GARRISON STARR "The Sound of You & Me" Vanguard

Friday, March 31, 2006

GARRISON STARR"The Sound of You & Me"Vanguard

GARRISON STARR'S music career has followed a path so common it almost seems cliched: She moved from Memphis to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s and signed to Geffen Records in hopes of becoming the next big thing. After two releases, a massive upheaval at Geffen (which was taken over by Interscope in 1998) left Starr without a label, and she vanished from the music scene for nearly five years.

Like so many others who have followed that same dismal trajectory, though, Starr bounced back with a few smaller-label releases and eventually left L.A. for Nashville to record her latest, "The Sound of You & Me." Despite the innate sweetness of her voice, "The Sound" is not a cheery record, as Starr ponders disappointments and failed relationships. She covers that frustration well, lightheartedly singing "Throw a scream into the air/Scream how you can never win" beneath a jangling guitar and a lulling piano line on "Sing It Like a Victim."

Starr doesn't always sound so peppy: Her wails on "Kansas City, Kansas" capture the lyrics' angst, while the mournful strings in "Big Enough" reflect her acceptance of defeat. Often, though, Starr's sugary-sweetness is overwhelming: "Cigarettes and Spearmint" is drenched in tender affection, while "We Were Just Boys and Girls" meanders despite the angelic harmonies of label mate Mindy Smith.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

Appearing Tuesday at Jammin' Java.

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