Garrison Starr

Songs From Take off to Landing

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Singer/songwriter Garrison Starr is somewhere between Emmylou Harris and Neko Case on the alt-country scale of adherence to tradition, neither hidebound nor revolutionary. (Steve Earle and Mary Chapin Carpenter make guest appearances on Starr's third album, as does her former bandmate Neilson Hubbard, to give you a further idea of where she's coming from.) Coming a full five years after her misbegotten major-label debut, Eighteen Over Me, which seemed to position Starr as a Melissa Etheridge-style heartland rocker, the far superior Songs From Take off to Landing takes the histrionics down several notches -- Starr has really grown as a vocalist, developing a husky mid-range not dissimilar to Lucinda Williams' -- and emphasizes the melodic pop side of Starr's songwriting. The songs are greatly improved, with the soaring "Big Sky" the clear highlight. It's a shame that it took so long for Starr to follow up her flawed but promising debut, but the time off clearly did her good.

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