Press Release: Garrison Starr Returns With Amateur, Her Seventh Studio Album
Releasing On Her Radtown Music Imprint, Special Guests Include Glen Phillips,
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Adrianne Gonzalez, Kevin Devine and Justin Glasco
UK/European Tour With Jay Nash Runs From April 4-20
US Tour With David Berkeley April 27-May 5
Los Angeles, CA: Releasing May 1 on her Radtown Music imprint, singer-songwriter-troubadour Garrison Starr returns with Amateur, her seventh studio album.
Representing her first full-length since 2007’s The Girl That Killed September, Amateur is co-produced with musician Justin Glasco (Christina Perri, Dan Wilson, Cary Brothers, Matt Nathanson, Kate Voegele, Jeremy Camp) and features contributions from singers Glen Phillips, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Adrianne Gonzalez, Gary Jules, Joey Ryan, Jake Newton and Natalia Zukerman, guitarists Kevin Devine, Meghan Toohey and Josh Dunahoo, drummer Aaron Redfield, and violinist Helena Lamb.
From the brimming glisten of “To Garrison on Her 29th Birthday” to the mid-70s era Eagles’ vibe of “Slow Crawl” (featuring guitar work by Kevin Devine) to the esoteric yearning of “The Needle and The Vein” to the soul-comforting “I’m gonna take you home” refrain of “Rednecks and Sailors” to the powerful self-examination of closer “Other People’s Eyes,” Amateur is a glorious affair of the heart.
It’s a loving affair shared with a deep foundation of musical kinship. Glen Phillips (of Toad The Wet Sprocket) joins in on the resplendent hope of “When You’re Really Trying,” an expansive open air flight that evokes a lineage to Lady Antebellum while Gary Jules subtly adds guitar and a melodic vocal counterpoint on the towering elegance of “Empire State Building”. Elsewhere, country music superstar Mary Chapin Carpenter provides a rustic backing vocal on “I May Not Let Go,” which sublimely roams the prairie of Sugarland before gingerly strolling the streets of Bluebell, Alabama, home to Dr. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) on the CW show Hart of Dixie, which featured the song on its Snowflakes & Soulmates episode.
The genesis of Amateur began during Garrison’s junior high years when she started writing a book called “A View of Life From An Amateur” which was a collection of poems, thoughts and general ponderings that is the blueprint for the current recorded chapter in her life journal. Twenty further years of jabs in the “ring of life”, its fifty minutes of resolute honesty are punctuated by the ethos of an amateur fighter (a portrait of a little boxer is the sole cover art image, sans name or title). She elaborates, “An amateur is somebody who pursues something for the love of it, not for money. That’s where I started in the ninth grade before I got into the music business and that’s where I find myself again. I’ve never forgotten the fighter in me and I’m starting over again”.
Starr reflects, “For the first time in almost 20 years of making records, I can hear me. I hear the person I want to be and am actually becoming, and that feels awesome. I don’t mean that in an egotistical way – I’ve been working my way out of some pretty serious darkness over the last several years, and to hear that progress and that metamorphosis happening is encouraging and validating for me.”
A centerpiece of the new opus comes roaring across the plains to the countrified strains of “The Train That’s Bound For Glory,” a gospel-infused anthem that’s poignant, both as a destination on the horizon and a mile marker in the rear view. With its refrain of “I never learned to trust nobody, I was too afraid to be let down,” it resonates wholeheartedly on the first listen and nestles close after miles and miles of repeated treks on its steely tracks.
What a long strange trek it’s been. During contractual stints with Geffen, Virgin and Vanguard Records, Starr released a wealth of critically acclaimed material that intimately connected with listeners. Now nearing her 20th Anniversary as a recording artist, and free from the confines of the agendas and politics of record labels, Garrison is confidently hitting her stride, both a seasoned songwriter and an accomplished entertainer.
Long gone are the “brand” names, but the passion remains the same.
Firmly embracing the new paradigm of the burgeoning era of DIY that allows for user-generated navigation, Garrison has self-released music via Direct-To-Consumer platforms such as Bandcamp and Topspin (her most recent fan-only “living room” EP entitled Not For Nothing contains a magnificent acoustic version of The Killers “When You Were Young”) and partnered up with publisher Brite Revolution to release a live EP called Relive that was recorded in front of a select group of fifty friends and fans in Nashville. Starr most recently utilized Pledge Music, (an online “pledge drive” similar to Kickstarter), to fund the Amateur recording.
Garrison delves into the DIY ethos, “Ani DiFranco made a really significant mark and I have always used her career as a reference when it comes to independent musicians. I have lots of friends who make a living for themselves in music. They make good money and they play by their own rules. I can’t imagine any other way of operating now. I’m so much more proactive because I know what I have and what is possible. I’ve been in the snake pit, and I know what it takes to charm the snake. I’m gonna charm the hell out of that sucker, believe it.”
Joining a band called The Living Hand (with Neilson Hubbard and Clay Jones) in 1993, Garrison’s career jumped on the fast track, which allowed her, over the course of two decades, to collaborate with some of the most revered songwriters of a generation. She’s toured with Melissa Etheridge, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Sarah McLachlan on Lilith Fair, worked with Steve Earle (whom produced two tracks on her Songs From Take-Off to Landing), co-produced music for Margaret Cho’s Cho Dependent album and dove head-first into side projects as a member of Among the Oak & Ash with Josh Joplin and Plover with Glen Phillips.
The collaborative spirit is something Starr takes pride in, and truly embraces, as the camaraderie it affords has become the loving embrace of a close-knit family. In 2005, she co-founded the songwriters troupe, North La Brea All Star Conquistadors with Jay Nash, Gabriel Mann and Adrianne Gonzalez (Katy Perry opened for them at the Canal Room in NYC in 2006) and regularly sits in on a critically acclaimed “songwriters in the round” series at Room 5 in Hollywood with Adrianne, Dawn Thomas and Grammy-Award winning songwriter Maia Sharp.
Drawing from a wealth of collective experience amidst many layers of reinvention, Julia Garrison Starr’s desire to creatively engage the minds, hearts and souls of others continues to burn bright. She, in fact, is the polar opposite of an amateur. Starr is a consummate professional firmly entrenched in the Conductor’s seat on a train that’s bound for glory.
“Garrison Starr is an incredible singer and songwriter and one of the brightest talents that music has ever seen. Artists like her come along once in a millennia and we are lucky to have her now.”
“Garrison Starr doesn’t live and breathe for the hit parade, she doesn’t play fashion doll, she just writes and sings her heart out. In the American Idolized landscape that constitutes today’s music business, she is someone to be thankful for.” Mary Chapin Carpenter
“Garrison voice goes straight to the gut. She reminds you of what it means to be human.” Glen Phillips
“Garrison Starr is the real deal.” Mindy Smith
“Starr has really grown as a vocalist, developing a husky mid-range not dissimilar to Lucinda Williams.” All Music
“Sports one of the strongest voices in town. She is also the author of affecting, emotion-bearing songs that are clothed in attractive, melodic garb.” Billboard
“Garrison Starr’s greatest gift is her gorgeous, full, rough, passionate voice that can be ultimately pensive, intimate, hurt, consoling, libidinous, or scornful— sometimes during the same verse.” MSNBC
“The LA-based indie rocker is also a seasoned songwriter, evident in her songs that listen a bit like a mix between Paul Simon and The Weepies.” PledgeMusic
“With her charming voice and her unmistakable songwriting talent, it’s about time more people caught on (Steve Earle seems to think so).” PopMatters
“Garrison Starr commands attention through familiar yet incisive lyrical wordplay.” Cherry Grrl
“Starr’s vocals are unique and her songwriting is impeccable.” Music Emissions
“A Lucinda Williams for Gen X’ers.” NPR’s eTown