March was jam-packed with great releases, but one album in particular really captivated music lovers on Sputnikmusic. For even those who aren’t privy to country music, there’s no denying that something feels invigorating about Starmaker and the way it presents its music. Despite a broad range of albums being selected for March’s AOTM, Honey Harper’s Starmaker won by a comfortable margin – which certainly speaks volumes about the quality found within this brilliantly executed LP.
March 2020 Album of the Month: Honey Harper – Starmaker
“A challenge for country fans: Take a shot every time you hear, “I listen to pretty much everything. Well, except country. I can’t stand country.” The objective? Survive.
Country isn’t the only victim of misconceptions fueled by a disliked mainstream personality. Yet, it seems to be the most popular genre to voice a displeasure of, and it seemingly emerges not from a thorough exploration, but rather a few choice singles that garner airplay. Saying that Honey Harper’s Starmaker is the exception to the rule implies a rule was in place to begin with, and such is not the case; this is the product of evolution in a category that features plenty of hits behind its radio-biased appearance. There are no trucks on this album, nor blue jeans, dime-a-dozen break-up stanzas, beer cans, and so on and so on. Instead, it is something much more genuine and closer to the heart.
However, labeling Starmaker as country and leaving it at that does it a disservice; there are more elements at play in every track composing the record’s tight duration of only 36 minutes. Lush acoustic soundscapes provide the general framework for songs, though they are not quite at the forefront of Honey Harper’s sonic identity. A dreamy aesthetic colors the album, with the instrumental contributions both resounding in their power and distant in their tone.
Those polished guitar leads guide the listener on a stroll through the clouds, grounded in the genuine nature of Harper’s lyricism but floating amongst the nearly angelic woodwind crescendos, wistful synths, and Harper’s soothing baritone. This captivating journey is perhaps best encapsulated by “Something Relative,” as it seems to meticulously demonstrate the strength of Starmaker’s various components. A graceful acoustic guitar glides by like a breeze, melancholic prose brought to life by the beautiful restraint displayed by Harper’s singing, more vulnerable here than any other number. As the entry progresses, string arrangements flourish and merge with the guitar, their elegant melody rising and falling before fading into the cosmos. By the track’s conclusion, all that’s left is that soulful baritone voice, the twang of the guitar drifting off to join its brethren in space. It is a highlight among a multitude of highlights that will undoubtedly leave one more than just vaguely satisfied.” – Mitchell D. W.