Review: Starsailor – All This Life

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One of the biggest traps for a successful band to fall into is succumbing to the need to stay relevant.

It is an understandable fear, the music industry is a constant moving force that wastes no time replacing a band for the next big thing should they prove to be unprofitable.

As a result it ends up being all too easy for a band to keep churning releases for the sake of keeping their name in the public or abandoning their unique sound and style for something more universally appealing.

StarSailor first came to prominence in 2001 after the release of their debut record “Love Is All” a solid, acoustic driven, Brit-pop record that saw

James Walsh and the gang secure their place amongst the other successful bands of time such as Stereophonics and U2.

16 years later, the band have endured despite not quite keeping their momentum as well as being hit by the sharp end of a few critic’s pens.

What’s commendable however is that instead of trying to force themselves upon the public, Starsailor decided to go on a hiatus, putting to the test just how much they’ll be missed in their absence.

“All This Life” is a reminder to longtime fans just who the band are while simultaneously being a chance for James Walsh and his cohorts to pump out their chest and reintroduce themselves to a greater audience.

Nothing says this more than the record’s opening track; “Listen To Your Heart” a Muse – Esque stadium filler that holds no punches as Walsh delivers an dramatic vocal performance.

“Fallout” starts off with a string of piano chords, followed by a light guitar riff and haunting vocals that quickly escalates into a chest pumping rock anthem.

“Sunday Best” on the other hand initially comes across as the record’s obligatory slow ballad but proves itself to be much more as it builds into a beautiful collaboration of strings, piano, drums and guitar all accompanied by Walsh crying out; “Look don’t listen in.”

While these are highlights of the record that prove just how well Starsailor work as a band, it could be argued that it’s only because it’s a continuation on their previous works, However “All This Life” also manages to deliver moments of versatility as the band experiment and delve further into their pop sound.

“Caught In The Middle” stands out with its blend of strings and funky rhythm that’s reminiscent of early Jamiroquai records.

Meanwhile “Take a Little Time” features playful experimentation with the use of multiple voices to set up the melody, but the real talking point is the track’s use of self referential; “Take a little time, to your self, don’t get caught up being someone else.” A little hard on the nose perhaps but a fun in-joke nevertheless.

The record’s real strengths come from when the band are working as a full collaborative force, however this is never consistent as there are times where everything just feels segregated.

One example is the track “Best of Me” which musically sounds like a generic sequence of chords that the band strung together in a jam session before asking Walsh to perform over it, the end result is something ultimately forgettable.

The record’s title track is a bit more musically interesting, but suffers at the hand of it’s cliched and nonsensical lyrics ; “There’s no love without light,”

“FIA” tries to make up for it with the lyric “Nothing’s impossible when you say fuck it all” but the entire song leading up to that moment feels like an afterthought to a lyric designed to sell T-Shirts at gigs.

This is all before the record ends on “No One Else” a bland acoustic track that feels like it was placed there for the sake of having an ending rather than for anything substantial.

Going back to the idea of staying relevant. James Walsh and his band had taken a large risk by disappearing for so long, there was always the chance that even their biggest fans may have moved on, But if there is one thing “All This Life has demonstrated it’s the band’s love for their job and their willingness to carry on against adversity.

Is it the great comeback they were hoping for? Not really no but it is a good start.

Verdict: Wait For Sale

Review written by Kieran Stowell


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