13th Star was originally released as a limited edition of 10,000 copies with a bonus DVD on September 6, 2007, only available through Fish's website or at one of his concerts to promote the album. It was released to retail on February 12, 2008. The lineup for the album is Frank Usher on guitars, Steve Vantsis on bass, Foss Paterson on keyboards, Gavin Griffiths on drums, Dave Haswell on percussion, Lorna Bannon on backing vocals, and new bandmember Chris Johnson on guitars. For the first time, Calum Malcolm (Prefab Sprout, Blue Nile) was brought in to produce the album, and he introduced a more disciplined approach into the recording process. There was also a change with regard to writing the album, as bassist Vantsis was heavily involved for the first time after ten years playing in the band, and his writing brought a slightly different approach. Some of the lyrics of the songs were also influenced by the fact that Fish split with his fiancée, Heather Findlay of the band Mostly Autumn, shortly after the recording of the album had started. 13th Star was written as a concept album, although this applies mainly to the lyrics presenting a narrative throughout -- the concept was of someone on a journey of self- discovery, with the 13th Star serving as the guiding light or the destination. From the first chords of the opening track, "Circle Line," the influence of Vantsis can be heard as the album has a more rocky feel, more akin to Sunsets on Empire than more recent albums. After this fast start, the album slows down on the third track, "Miles de Besos," which is Spanish for "Thousands of Kisses." The fifth track, "Arc of the Curve," was the first single released from the album, but as expected, it did nothing in the charts. After this track, the album picks up the pace again with one of the disc's highlights, "Manchmal." This is a German word for "Sometimes," and the song tells the tale of the turtle and the scorpion. The remainder of the album continues in the same vein, and overall this is Fish's best offering in a long while -- some say his best ever, although this is open to debate.
AllMusic Review by Sharon Mawer