The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, November 29, 2013, Music

Starlings, TN

All the Good Times (Chicken Ranch)

Starlings, TN's double-dulcimer finger dance becomes a big sound on the alt string band's seventh LP. Credit the addition of drums plus psych-worthy reverb levels applied to Steve Stubblefield's country croak and Tim Bryan's bowed dulcimer. Thank chemistry as well. The Starlings' punk rock pedigree coughs up the fist-shakin' title track, but most of All the Good Times maintains a dirt road union of bluegrass, Fifties rock, and folk that sounds patented even when covering classics "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "Shake, Rattle & Roll," which makes good use of telecaster picker Bryan Robison's Luther Perkins-like licks. The gorgeous narrative of "Back to Magnolia," with its potent nostalgia and descending scale, achieves emotional gravity and stands out as the album's most heartfelt song, unless you're a barbecue fanatic, in which case you'll connect with "Burnt Ends," namedropping local pits and recalling the topical country quirk of Roger Miller.


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