Robert James Starr – Light A Fire With Me
Born in Brooklyn and raised in the burbs of New York City, Starr comes from a musical family intent on him not being a musician. Pushing him to be an engineer and eventually getting a PhD, Starr persisted with his music and has now released a couple of blues albums. He claims his schooling was a struggle because of all the time spent practicing and playing music, but he made a career in the business world before moving to Mississippi for work in 2015. This inspired him to write and play blues music.
Starr began with a love for Southern Rock. He grew up with Jazz, R&B, Rock, Pop, 50’s Doo Wop, Gospel, and Blues NS played saxophone from fourth grade all the way through high school and played in a variety of bands in school. His earlier bands Fallen Angel and the Bobby Starr Band. focused on the rock and Christian music side of things before he released Unfinished Bizzness in 2017, his first blues album. We have this CD two years later which follows his 2018 self-titled Gospel release, expressing his love for the blues that developed from his Mississippi transplant and early influences.
Recorded in Jackson, Mississippi at 16-Bars Recording by Kevin “KJ” Jones, his band is Bill Lewis on drums, David Hopkins on bass, Bobby Collins on sax, James Bell on keys, Bud Carson on harmonica, Stephanie Luckett on vocals, Lauren Wooten also on vocals and Keith Boutwell also on harmonica. They are a cool little group and seem together and into the songs.
The CD opens with “Ain’t No Love Here,” a song about how love is lost and his women leaving him for dead with a pillow over his face. He finds a credit card receipt for a shotgun that makes him think what the title says. A blast from the gun helps t convince him. Nice piano and guitar work are featured along with harp. Things get funky with “When The Bad Man Comes for You.”The harp is out front with the vocals here, perhaps a bit much on the harp. A very solid sax solo and the guitar work throughout are great.
“Easy Livin’ Blues” follows, a cut that again features really nice sax work and Starr delivering “bad ass” blues. “Forgive Me (because I don;t know what I do)” is up next where Starr pleads for help with his ways. He goes Gospel here, looking for forgiveness. Stinging guitar is featured here, delivered with the same passion he has with his vocals. In “Uptown Barbi” we have Starr singing about a woman with uptown and upscale tastes which give him the blues. His short, blue eyed hottie drives him to having the blues. A big, solid guitar solo is featured mid song where Starr shows his stuff.
“Shame On You and Me” swings and bops and features some sax and the harp that plays throughout. this and several of the cuts. The guitar opens “Where Did My Love Go?” as Starr sings about bringing his love back to him. The backing vocalists are powerful and the guitar punctuates the song nicely. The harp again goes on and on throughout. The organ backing the guitar solo adds to the mix well.
“Jackson Mississippi” is up next, a cut that serves to show his love for the city. Starr gives us a bit of a travelogue of his favorite spots as he bounces through this one. The harp gets a big solo here. “I fell in The Delta” is a slow cut where Starr and company tells us us how he lost it to a girl in the Delta. The song builds and goes out with a flourish. Things conclude with “I Gave My Heart to a Southern Girl.” So after falling for a chick in the Delta, Starr gives us a more mid tempo cut about other women around the South he’s given his heart to.
Vocally I think the album struggles at times with Starr perhaps trying to be overly affected. He delivers his songs with passion but the vocals are a bit forced.
Starr’s having fun with his songs and singing about life. He gives it his all, playing and singing about topics he loves. The songs are all originals and the band is proficient and tight. Starr’s guitar work is solid and impressive.