Starry Skies broaden the Folk-Pop genre with aplomb.
Release Date: 12th August 2022
Label: Foxstar Records
Format: CD / digital / LP
Starry Skies – a collective with as broad a musical palette as there are characters who contribute to the band. Alongside guitarist and songwriter Warren McIntyre sit Heather Phillips (vocals / violin), Sophie Pragnell (vocals / viola), Johnny Rooney (lead guitar) and Adam Scott (bass) plus a handful of guests who all bring their own touches to the Small Wonders party.
With a background in creating opportunities for bands and musicians to display and perform their work together with facilitating over 200 performances via Glasgow’s 7 Song Club, it’s no surprise that Small Wonders is brimming with diversity. It’s as an eclectic collection as you’re likely to find. Predicting what might come next is the first thrill of listening to Small Wonders, the second thrill coming in trying to remember as the second and repeated listens commence.
The optimism of the understated opening Smile Through The Dark is fully realized once Spitfire Susie kicks in with a transatlantic New Wave passion and power. The catchy chorus of “Spitfire Suzie, she knows how to do it…” rings triumphantly in a story of a strong female character. And we’re off; already given a hint that the journey is going to take several twists and turns. The next comes in a brooding Country tale of Highway Eagle where an aching string part invokes a wisp of melancholy and calling of the spirits.
By the time we hit the end of (the old) Side 1, Kind Hearted People finds the band in full-on jangle pop mode before cutting a groove with a starker arrangement on Natural Way. And still the variety keeps a-coming. Fizzing punk energy – I Don’t Wanna Be That Kind Of Guy (“but you out the worst in me“). A song that conjures up visions of this one being blasted out in someone’s garage. There’s even a sneering drawl to add to the anger; remember, as someone once said, anger is an energy/energeeee. And true to the ethic, it’s over in a spit after just two minutes.
Leading towards album closer On The Beach, a tender piano ballad, the mood of a touching empathy has already been pre-empted by the previous two tracks, of which I Was Lost charts a philosophical slant with asense of resignation in the “I was lost, so could not lose,” thought-provoking turn of phrase.
It sums up Small Wonders in that amongst the moments where you’d hold your breath for fear of disturbing the peace or while you gather your thoughts, there remain enough opportunities to shake a leg and shake off the shackles.
Here’s a flavour of Starry Skies with Here Comes The Moon from 2020’s Do It With Love album: