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Starry Skies - Small Wonders (Fox Star Records)

6 September 2022

With just two sonic strokes, that is, the two opening tracks on this Starry Skies’ fourth album, the band show just how versatile they are. “Smile Through The Dark”, which kicks things off, is a delicate, gently chiming acoustic guitar and voice creation that has you running for your Don Mclean and James Taylor albums; so much does it remind you of and stand on the shoulders of such giants, such genius. And then, as if to say, “ ha, you might think that you have us pegged, but…” they head into the recent single “Spitfire Suzie”, the most dexterous slice of power-pop you will have heard in a long time.

But rather than those two songs acting as the musical spectrum, the gamut to be run, it is merely a teaser, a sonic serving suggestion. As satisfying as these two tracks are, they are just a selection of the musical feast on offer here.

“Light In Your Soul” is the sort of song that The Beautiful South would have wrestled you bodily into the dirt to get their hands on – spacious, reflective, gorgeous. And then, as if to prove that they can even cover the more foot-on-the-monitor, heads down, no-nonsense, mindless boogie, they whip out “I Don’t Wanna Be That Kinda Guy” – a song that sits between pop and a hard place; part muscle, part melody, totally glorious and wonderfully refreshing.

“Iris In The Underground” is infectious and moving, “Natural Way” swaggers and grooves, and “On the Beach is shimmering and sensitive.”

Many bands have a signature sound and revel in a particular sound or style. While Starry Skies may anchor themselves by placing one foot firmly in the pop-rock world, their music is colored by where they chose to put the other one – rock and roll, soul, folk, balladry, torch song – that forms their fluid and a fabulous range of sounds. Have you ever heard a more versatile and truly exciting band lately? No, I thought not!.

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