Review – Star Anna – Crooked Path (Malamute Records)

Now this is how it’s done. Ellensburg, Washington based Star Anna Krogstie‘s debut release, “Crooked Path” (the English translation of her Norwegian surname) delivers some of the finest work in alternative country today.

Echoing the folky remoteness of Cat Power (Chan Marshall), the rustic revivalism of Gillian Welch, and just a grain of Neko Case style Southern-gothic smoldering, Star Anna wears her influences proudly but makes her own mark on the material here.

Her band the Laughing Dogs lay down adept and solid sounds that moves from the alt.country of “If Wishes Were Horses” , “Black Cat Blues” to the Appalachian-style raved-up title song. “Places We Exist” takes page from the Van Morrison book of swinging pop-folk and “Space Beneath The Door” grooves along with a soft blues-funk that belies the love don’t live here no more message of the song. One of the finest songs in a whole line of fine songs is the slow-burning “No Surprise” featuring a weeping bottle-neck accompaniment is as haunting as anything done by the great Patsy Cline and is guaranteed to break your heart and make you reach for the bottle.

Sure the sound moves across a sonic landscape, but Star Anna pulls it all together with her lilting passionate voice. This is one of the finest debut releases it has been my pleasure to hear.

Star Anna – “If WIshes Were Horses”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSNb9qVI5Nk[/youtube]

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