There’s a great photo of Garrison Starr inside Sound of You and Me. Barely made-up, with short hair and the hint of a raised eyebrow, it’s revealing, like a snapshot of a long-lost friend. This is me, it suggests. This is how I’m feeling right now.
That’s the sense of Sound, too, Starr’s second record for Vanguard. A Nashville-by-way-of-Memphis singer-songwriter, Starr was touted for stardom a decade ago, and, after some career disappointments, has settled on a more manageable, grassroots-oriented career path. She works in between worlds, suggesting both the folk-pop of Shawn Colvin (“Sing it Like a Victim,” “Black and White”) and Aimee Mann’s modern tales of love-obscured-by-smog (“Beautiful in Los Angeles”), while forever remaining true to her own vocals and experiences.
Starr’s singing always flits on the edge wistfully, like she’s finally ready to reveal what’s always been on her mind. “In my heart I needed to believe I was pretending,” she half-whispers in “Pretending,” and the song’s confessional beauty probably makes all her ex-lovers bawl. Her rootsy acoustic guitar is supported by clean, professional production that blends strings, electric guitar, and keys for a sound with shades of her Southern background but an equal knack for adult-pop-radio slickness.
Thankfully, it’s never too slick, and Garrison Starr comes away with an album as personal as it is accessible.