Right The Stars [Self-Titled]

“Listen to this album when you’re on the verge of being overwhelmed. It might set off the weepies for a minute or fourteen, but it’s laced with silver linings and learning, and it will leave you feeling a little less burdened….” -Sarah Bates

Guest Writer

out of 10

June 26, 2010

Right The Stars is the solo-project of Jacques Rich, a former music instructor and now primarily a music producer. I gave the album a once through on a long drive home when I had a lot on my mind. By the end of track four, I realized it had been fifteen minutes I hadn’t heard a word Rich had said… but I felt lighter. The album had pulled me easily and steadily through a long stretch of road and I felt less weighed down for it. Rich’s voice was comforting, but I honestly thought it was just going to be an easy-listening album in which I wouldn’t get very involved. “South Indian Monkey Trap” began just as the other songs had for me, but by the final chorus, I was already singing in harmony and starting the track over.

I checked the title and gave a soft, sad smile and a shake of my head. Such a song could only have a name like “South Indian Monkey Trap”. Just as a monkey will trap its hand in a coconut trying to reach the sweet food inside, so the singer is trapped in his inability to let go of that which is trapping him. So was the start of my absolute love for Right The Stars. I was listening in rapt attention. “But if I could/ If I could/ If I could/ I’d let go.” “South Indian Monkey Trap” is by far the best song on the album, in composition and lyrics. My only complaint is that at 3:06 it was not nearly long enough.

Starting over, I gave the album a more discerning ear. “Let Go of Her Hand” reminds me instantly of Dave Matthews with its guitar, bass and drums all steadily building up to the first chorus. It’s a good way to start an album. I could tell within the first two minutes that it’s an album for cruising in the car with the windows down, but that could be because that’s exactly how I first listened to it. Let me remind you that I was wrong, as noted above, and that I have only absolute love for “South Indian Monkey Trap”.

The album has another notable song in the cover of “Life In a Northern Town”. Originally recorded by English folk-rock group Dream Academy, then covered by Sugarland, “Life In a Northern Town”‘s chanting chorus is easily recognizable. The song was strong originally, but Right The Stars’ equally strong cover makes it a solid addition to the album. After listening to Right The Stars for now a third and fourth time, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s an absolutely great album, and I just had too much on my plate when I first listened to it. But, I wouldn’t have changed the way I started the album out. It’s an album made for having too much to handle and realizing that we all have moments where we “forget that sometimes life is beautiful.”

Anything less than what Rich delivered would have made this album mediocre, and I think he definitely treads a fine line when writing about some of the subject matters in his songs. But he has successfully and distinctively separated himself from others attempting to do the same thing-–put a new spin on songs about life and love without coming across as a jerk. The album starts in warm, easy waters, moves forward and carries the listener, like a leaf, bubbling over rocks. Then it slips us into sad little inlets where we remember that we all have these moments of hard times filled with “some things we were never meant to keep” (from “Let Go Of Her Hand”). But like all realizations on grabbing love, and eventually letting go, we know we have to get up and dust ourselves off. Jacques Rich watched the leaf float down the creek and, when it got suck, plucked it out of the still waters and sent it floating back on another journey, writing about it as he watched it go.

Listen to this album when you’re on the verge of being overwhelmed. It might set off the weepies for a minute or fourteen, but it’s laced with silver linings and learning, and it will leave you feeling a little less burdened and a little more ready to face what’s next, whether your a stuck in an inlet or just still too in love with someone who doesn’t love you back… Or neither, and you just want a good listen. Rich’s website claims that “one or more songs of Jacques’ latest album could be the soundtrack of your life, no matter who you are.” It’s a bold statement, but it’s true. Enjoy it.