Nashville based Mark Huff’s new release Stars For Eyes (Exodus Records) was produced by Grammy winner Chad Brown (Faith Hill, Ryan Adams). If you like strata and sustained complexity in your Americana music, this one’s for you. It features a host of heavy-hitters: Russ Pahl on pedal steel (Pretenders, John Hiatt) with Huff and Doug Lancio (John Hiatt) on guitar. Mike Vargo is on bass (Alison Moorer), and on keys is Micah Hulscher (Margo Price). Julie Christenson (Leonard Cohen) provides haunting backing vocals, too.
“Prison Door” sets the stage for the album with its layered instrumentalism and Huff’s comforting vocal tones. “Stars For Eyes” again features complex layering of keys and vocals with electronica pedal steel and keyboard overlays: “you’ve been born a thousand times.” Russ Pahl’s pedal steel is a standout as it’s loaded with groovy effects on the song “Carolina Blue.” “Big City Down” features banjo mingling with the keys and “I Know You Don’t Want My Love” highlights Huff’s acoustic prowess.
‘Albatross” is the Americana centerpiece of the album, both lyrically and musically. The rhythm section’s groove is explicit, and the guitar solo is masterful, with its more somber messages: “see the albatross fly across the wasteland” to touch the heart of Americana music lovers. “Almost Like the Blues,” a Leonard Cohen song, is wonderfully backed by Cohen’s longtime vocalist Julie Christenson.
The album carries its sounds like interlocking sonic waves of daydreamy intricacy, at times hearkening back to 70’s style vocals and rich with overlapping tones.
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