Ellen Starski review…May 10, 2018….

ELLEN STARSKI

WHEN PEONIES PRAYED FOR THE ANTS

ODE TO NANNY AND COOKIE–HONEY, I’M NOT HIM–MISSING YOU–SLIP OF PAPER–SEPARATED BY TIME–TAKEN BY THE BREEZE–MISS YOU MARY–DAUGHTER OF THE SEA–FAIRWEATHER FRIEND–CHASING THE SUN–WHEN PEONIES PRAYED FOR THE ANTS

Ellen Starski was born in the coal country of rural Western Pennsylvania, but her love of music soon drew her to Tennessee–first to Knoxville, then to her home here in Nashville, with husband and fellow musician, Shawn.  Her solo debut, “When Peonies Prayed For The Ants,” is an album that was, literally, 12 years in the making, as these songs were written over that span of time during her journeys as a traveling musician.  In fact, Ellen and Shawn did play in a blues band, Elle And The Fine Lines, back in the day!.  A Nashvillian since 2008, the material on this album is autobiographical in nature, dealing with family and friends and the struggles of everyday life that we all encounter, as seen thru the eyes of a young woman from Reynoldsville, PA.

You can hear the influences of Dylan and Leonard Cohen throughout, and her evocative, expressive upper-register vocals fit this material well.  Evidence the leadoff cut, an “Ode To Nanny And Cookie,” which shouts-out to not only her two grandmothers, but also to those struggling with loved ones ravaged by Alzheimer’s Disease.   “Miss You Mary” is a somber tune dealing with the loss of one’s mother, and coping with that loss.  It is set over a reverential, strings-and-flamenco-ish guitar arrangement, adding to the song’s sincerity.  May-December relationships are explored by the “definitely doe-eyed” young lass in a relationship with a man fourteen years her senior, “Separated By Time,” yet “nobody felt it more than him,” especially after the baby arrives!  This one has some hot fiddle from Deanie Richardson, too.

Our favorite was easy.  Doesn’t matter if you play blues, folk, bluegrass, country or whatever, for me, nothing beats a good ole “murder song.”  Producer Anne McCue is all over that haunting, “cjheatin’ banjo” that lurks all thru the story of that “other woman.”  Our heroine tells her, with both a gun and a bottle of whiskey at the ready, to “find yourself a lily-white church” and “perhaps God will forgive you of your sin,” but “Honey, I’m Not Him!”

Ellen Starski has come a long way since that twelve-year odyssey that led her to Tennessee.  She’s always good with a story, and,  Ellen, if you stay in this town long enough, you’ll never be at a loss for songwriting material!  Fans, please enjoy “When Peonies Prayed For The Ants.”  Until next time…Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Henry on May 11, 2018 at 1:13 am

    Wry nice review… the music of Ellen Starski sounds wonderful! I’ll check it out!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Henry on May 11, 2018 at 1:14 am

    Very… not Wry … lol!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Truman A.(Tony) seago on May 12, 2018 at 1:54 am

    The first time I heard Ellen sing 8 yrs ago I fell in Love with her vocals. I am a credict,it’s my career,I’ve been in music production and a educator in music for a long time.I’ve followed Ellen Around to every show She performed since then.She is the best. Everybody that heard her agrees and told her so.I’m so happy that everybody will hear her now.

    Reply

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