It was SXSW 2002. My music freak counterpart and I were on a mission to see seven bands in seven different venues this one particular evening. Our ventures took us to the largest venue of all, where photos were not allowed and the people the pouring in like a movie premier. We hadn’t actually “heard” Starsailor, the stars of the evening, but there was such a huge buzz about the conference we had to take a listen for ourselves.
From the back of the music hall we could feel their powerful stage presence and emotion as James Walsh’s (the band’s singer and songwriter) words in motion floated high above the mesmerized crowd. I knew then that this was only the beginning. But the question was, for a band who had been together less than two years at that time, how did they get to this level so quickly without the boiler plate marketing plan and budget in tow?
They made it look easy on their debut release, Love Is Here, with over a million units sold, and the opening slot for the Rolling Stones tour last year didn’t hurt either. Now their sophomore release Silence is Easy hits the U.S. shelves this week after being released in the U.K. last September. To add yet another big name to Starsailor’s history books, it was none other than the godfather of the Wall of Sound, Phil Spector, who broke his 20-year retirement from the biz to work with the band.
After it appeared the legendary producer’s hand in the project was a bit heavier than they desired, they had to break free and go on their own. It was a scary, but strategic move on their part, and the result was enormous.
Huge waves of emotion engulf the overall essence of this album; not in a “sit in your room alone with a bottle of Jack and a clove cigarette ” fashion, but with a more heart lifting nature, the way you feel as you sit in an airplane and gaze at the clouds as the sun sets or sit around with your friends laughing and realize for a moment just how lucky you are to have them.
Starsailor has somehow captured and bottled that feeling, taking the mood up and down, in and out, using the tools of their talent – from Walsh’s soaring vocals to some simple piano touches, violin strings and guitar strums. To go into each song in detail would do a disservice to the album itself. Although some songs do stand out above the others in their level of energy and ingenuity, Silence is Easy is complete piece of music that needs to be listened to in its entirety; an orchestrated trip to the land of celebration, joy, and all those other gushy descriptions of “life is good.”