Sea Star's a Seattle-based four-piece band centred around the songwriting of singer and multi-instrumentalist Fay Wiedenhoft. The majority of her compositions are story-driven songs in the contemporary folk mode, these tending to be thoughtful but also embracing an entertaining element, as on the driving maritime-themed Little Blue Boat.
The album - Sea Star's third release - also takes occasional departures into the realms of Celtic and rootsy-bluegrass-flavoured Americana. The disc opens with a take on the traditional sea-ballad of The Great Selkie, and later embraces the neo-traditional Galway Bay (written by Francis Fahy) and Robert Burns' Highland Mary, all efficiently done, alongside a gutsy electric-folk rendition of Stan Rogers' Giant that would do Trees proud. The latter cover aside, though, the most persuasive tracks tend to be those where rootsy Americana is to the fore and the scoring's centred around Fay's banjo and a sparser acoustic backdrop - the title song and If It'd Rain being the highlights for me, along with the brief, yearning a cappella number Austin.
There's more to enjoy during the course of the album, especially during its second half, and Fay's strong singing voice and confident delivery imparts the whole album with a certain measure of unity. Even so, it can all seem just a little too effortless at times, for all that Sea Start's music is suitably accessible and radio-friendly without being bland, and with accomplished instrumental contributions using electric, acoustic and slide guitars, mandolin, accordion, piano, bass and percussion.
Sea Star's is an admirable mission, to maintain a variety of moods and styles while drawing the listener in with their stories, and by and large it's a case of mission accomplished with Never Go Back.
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