Star Anna – “Go To Hell”

Treat yourself to ‘Go To Hell’, the Spark & Shine Records debut from STAR ANNA – a performer Mike McCready touts as “an original American star”

Beth Yeckley

8.5
out of 10

Star Anna
Go To Hell
September 24th, 2013
Spark & Shine Records

Star Anna‘s Go To Hell is raw from the instant her vocals hit the first track. “For Anyone” kicks off an album that explores levels of reflective somberness and defiance of the difficulties that plagued her before and during the making of this album. She sings in a raspy voice, “Still got your name scrawled out across my back / I should have known you’d let me bleed like that.”

For as much as this first track feels like Star Anna pulled herself onto a dark stage in a basement bar after smoking and drinking through the night, it’s important to note that all this rawness and vulnerability is channelled into a soulful and thoughtful album. There’s nothing sloppy about Go To Hell.

Star offers reprieve from heavier-set songs with offerings like “Electric Lights” and “Mean Kind of Love,” which are both dazzling with Americana driven melodies: a drawn out guitar, slower tempo, and a heavy acoustic hand. It’s worth mentioning that this is Star Anna’s fourth album, but the only one on which she has focused herself solely on vocals, and not instrumentation. Instead, she is joined by a talented cast, including Ty Bailie (keyboards/organ/piano), Julian McDonough (drums), Jacques Willis (vibraphones), Will Moore (bass), and Jeff Fielder (guitars).

The best of the album comes on “Let Me Be.” Oddly enough, the guitar boasts a gritty swagger that is quickly overshadowed by the depth of pain in Star’s lyrics. She sings, “Couldn’t just let me be / Come around here and play your tricks on me / Couldn’t just let me go / Drag me down tied to your heart of stone / Sunk right to the bottom all alone.” But it’s more than aching vocals; the song is richly laced with ramped up guitars and percussion.

She shuts down the album with “Smoke Signals”, a punk rock kick-you-in-the-face song that is all things accelerated. I was surprised, at first, to hear the album end this way, but maybe it’s a sign that things are going to be all right for Star Anna.

– September 24th, 2013 – Beth Yeckley

Mike McCready & Star Anna – Full Performance on KEXP