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Mack Starks

ELSEWHERE (Nitrolian) • Mack Starks

Deep but effervescent pop from Nashville, a beautiful album. Mack Starks and producer Richard McLaurin really hit the mark here.

It's a spookier, cooler town than people know. Many homes and humble looking office buildings hold geniuses of every kind. Behind all of the crap that's being written to emulate the crap that's being played on Country radio, there is a quiet, expansive spider web of songwriters and musicians making music of all description in their homes or studios, on their computers...fortunately, great records keep popping up.

Mack Starks was a founding member and main songwriter of a very respected band in town called Farmer Not So John, whom impresario Billy Block succinctly tagged the Pink Floyd of alternative country. Another key member was Richard McLaurin, who produced this disc, to understate the matter. McLaurin plays all kinds of tracks: guitars, synth and chord organ, drums and loops, sounds, piano, bass, pedal steel, strings, etc. He's made some good records at his Monkeyfinger Studios, we hear he's now over at the legendary House of David on Music Row, where the King had his own secret entrance.

Craig Krampf is on drums and percussion, always adding more than just music. Don Johnson plays beautiful bass, likewise David Henry on cello, a McLaurin favorite. Cameos include Matthew Ryan, Daniel Tashian, Charlotte Avant, John Deaderick, and Vickie Hampton.

The opener, "Mirage," a hit song in a better world, says it all, so be sure to check it out on the Listen page. A lot of the record is appealingly dense, and so I appreciate also the relative starkness, as it were, of the album closer, "Corrupted Heart." The songs are extremely of a piece and consistent in feeling-tone, so as a record it plays very well from start to finish. It's very radio ready, if only radio were ready. But it's great, and already making its way quietly around the world, saw it pop up on the sharp German label Blue Rose, which is also going to handle FNSJ. If you listen, we think you'll buy it, here. (Our thanks to the elusive Judith Edelman, who kindly provided us with an apostolic copy of this fine recording.)
• FG

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