Sunday, 21 June 2009
Getting on for four years since I first heard this. Still as magical and arresting, still hidden, still waiting to be discovered.
"Million Star Hotel is like a multi-faced diamond reflecting light into a hall of mirrors. A classic pop album from North Carolina that unashamedly mines past glories. Made by someone whose teenage years were spent in the 70s in cars with radios. You hear late Beach Boys, Neil Young, Bolan, and of a time when music and romance were inextricably mingled.
Put together over a number of years, it comprises 14 songs and nearly 70 minutes. Adventurous well-made songs illuminated by those million stars but created like sculptures, with always something more. Always another teasing little sound in the corner.
Lynn Blakey, Don Dixon and Chris Phillips help out. Mitch Easter plays guitar and co-produces, but it’s Foster’s album. His strengths define it. His warm tenor voice is always entrancing. He writes a memorable lyric: “she bet on a bobtail loser”. He takes classic lines and makes them new; we know where titles like ‘Long Gone Sailor’ and ‘All I Do Is Dream’ come from.
The start is a gentle ambience and a whisper that grows into the tale of a ‘Lily Of The Highway’. The major motifs are all here: girls, cars, growth, loss. Its variance is the promise of what’s to follow, redeemed by ‘The Summer Of The Son Of Sam’. 1977, when Elvis and Skynyrd both fell to earth. Over six minutes the song rises, from a quiet meditative night with cicadas, into an epic.
Memorable moments persist; ‘Little Priest’ begins like glam rock, and becomes a California surf ballad. ‘Don’t Listen To Me’ channels Danny Whitten. ‘Long Gone Sailor’ seems part-written under the influence of Holland. Yet every second of this remarkable album cries out to be listened to. Everything here does its part; these songs will never let the careful listener down. Always they’ll inspire, and always they’ll reward."
Posted by Nick Bob at 12:07