June Star,
(Toadfish, 2004)

Andrew Grimm is the star of June Star, in that he wrote the music and lyrics, produced and helped mix the album, sings lead and plays electric/acoustic/bass guitars, mandolin and banjo. While Grimm may seem to have superhuman abilities, he does admit being accompanied by "satellite affiliates" Chris Plummer, John Tenney, Jay Filippone and Tom Scanlan.

There are plenty of great things about Sugarbird. All of the songs, even the "OK" ones, are very accessible and affable. One reason for this could be the common themes of all the songs -- love and loss -- to which anyone can relate. In my opinion, the highlight of the album is "Baltimore," a great narrative of promises, failure and optimism.

Another reason for June Star's accessibility is Grimm's vocals. While the instruments, background vocals and lyrics could be all across the board, it won't matter because Grimm's vocal style (a monotone baritone -- monobaritone?) actually acts as a conduit/cohesive device for all the elements.

It's not all about Grimm's vocals, though. Check out the surprisingly energetic instrumental "My Sweetheart." It's a little over two minutes -- a bit short for such an interesting tune. But, like any good performance, you're left wanting more.

The downside to this album is, well, it has a down side. There are some songs like "Acetone," "Mexico" and "Home" that take such a slow and somber pace (in tempo as well as in the lyrics) that they border on depressing. However, that's not to say that slow=bad; check out "Way Down" for a solid well-crafted song that keeps it slow. But, as I mentioned before, even the "OK" songs are of a sufficient quality to keep your interest in the overall album.

If you are looking for an album that instantly piques your interest and retains it, I recommend Sugarbird by June Star.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 9 April 2005