Thoughtfully conceived and carefully executed emotional landscapes envelop the listener in their web.
June Star, (AKA, Andrew Grimm), divides his time between being an accomplished Americana artist and teaching college literature courses. Perhaps unsurprising then that the appellation June Star is taken from a character in the Flannery O’Connor novel, ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find‘. It might be expected that Grimm’s time spent with literary exegesis would have an impact on the writing of lyrics for his recording projects; though thankfully this does not manifest itself in obscure references to the literary greats. Rather the lyrics are carefully considered expressions of complex emotional landscapes that become layered throughout the course of the song such as the track, ‘Border’ where the protagonists laments: “I followed every rule you ever broke”.
The album commences engagingly with, ‘Seven Pieces’ which starts as though the track has already been playing, hesitates, and then recommences. This is a great way to introduce the listener to these songs, it seems to say that Grimm’s music and mediations don’t stop and end with these songs; they are in fact part of a wider continuum of which we become a part of for the duration of the recording. Grimm’s vocals are delivered in a world-weary tone reminiscent of Chuck Prophet or Jay Farrar, periodically enhanced by the sweet harmony vocals of Mary-Lee Kortes. The contribution by pedal steel player, Dave Hadley adds a lovely country flavour to the songs, not at times without a sense of humour where a vaguely drunken wobbliness can be felt. Grimm excels at creating slow, soulful songs such as, ‘Universal Truce’ but is as equally adept at giving us up-tempo barroom rockers like, ‘How We See it Now’ whose sublime combination of organ and pedal steel provide energy and atmosphere. Also featured in the mix are occasional banjo, strings, and flurries of piano creating atmosphere and immediacy but never saturating the production.
There is an energy to ‘How We See It Now’ that inspires despite the tone at times being one of sad resignation; Grimm seems to be saying that if we can hold on to this energy, we can all still make it through.