A sign of a good album is when it taps into the mood you are in. The sign of a great album is when it is able to change your mood in a good way – and that is the case with Starlight Highway, the latest release from Californian based singer songwriter Corinne West.
This is a self assured collection of songs that has a one o’clock in the morning feeling about it which immediately takes you into the world of an artist at the top of their game, ably backed by some of the best musicians around. From the opening track ‘Trouble No More’, the scene is set with lilting mandolin and gentle Hammond organ before we are introduced to Corinne’s beautiful vocals.
This is the 5th album from Corinne and there is a maturity in the song writing which takes time to develop, as is the case with ‘Sweet Rains of Amber’, with exquisite harmonies and a chorus line that transports you to another world. ‘Give Our Ships Away’ picks up the pace and features vocal duties shared with Kelly Joe Phelps. The record then settles back into a gentle feel with ‘Audrey Turn The Moon’.
The mandolin playing of Mike Marshall & Marla Fibish and the Hammond organ of Henry Salvia & John R Burr really help make the songs stand out and takes the overall sound to a different level. ‘Cry of the Echo Drifter’ has its roots in the Great American Song Book with its sing-along chorus and lilting feel. ‘Find Me Here’ is for me the stand out track on the album with Corinne’s spine tingling vocals and gentle piano solo interweaving in heart wrenching combination that between them packs a punch of emotion.
The title track ‘Starlight Highway’ is a high tempo song with all the musicians integrating nicely, and the final track ‘Night Falls Away Singing’ feels it should be sang around a campfire and a fitting way to end the album.
All in all this is a great selection of songs that fit together nicely creating an overall feel for the album which gets better each time you hear it, highly recommended.
Corinne is on tour throughout the UK in May/ June 2016
Review by Steve Gray