The music business can be incredibly tough and unforgiving. After parting company with Wolfe Records in the early '90s, Mariel found herself unable to land another record deal. Finally, after countless rejection letters, the Philadelphia artist decided to take the proactive approach and release her second album, Starry Eyes, on her own Aerial Sounds label. This sophomore effort isn't without its flaws; Starry Eyes (which Mariel produced herself) sounds underproduced -- some would call the sound quality demo-like -- and overall, her writing isn't as strong as it would be on her subsequent Aerial Sounds releases The Darkest Angel and Fragments of a Dream. But while Starry Eyes is inconsistent and uneven, the CD's best songs let you know that Mariel (who wrote most of the songs) has potential. "Get You Down" and "The Love Factor" aren't masterpieces, but they do demonstrate that she is a capable songwriter. Also noteworthy is a cover of Alan Parsons' "Don't Answer Me." Although Starry Eyes is essentially a pop/rock album, Mariel's high-tech, rhythmic production tends to make you think of European dance-pop -- which isn't surprising because there was plenty of dance-pop on her first album, Mood Swings. And while the high-tech approach is great for a lot of artists, Mariel has been better off with more of a band sound. Again, Starry Eyes has its moments, but it isn't her best album -- in 1997, Mariel still had some growing and developing to do.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson