Band: R. Star
Album: Songs From the Eye of an Elephant
Best Element: Emotional piano instrumentalism
Genre: Piano pop
Label: Stone Crow Records
Piano-pop has never sounded this good; awe-inspiring melodies, a grave emotional connect with the ivories, lyrics that could make the Bruce Willis from Die Hard cry like a baby. What can I say? I love Ben Folds.
Ryan Star (who goes by R. Star), on the other hand, is a 27-year-old Long Island native who enjoys combining the noise of grandeur piano-pop with the resurrected vocals of David Lee Roth.
Formerly the lead singer of indie-rock group Stage (I’d never heard of them either), R. Star left the band in an attempt to follow his heart, which he believes to be grounded in a lights-out solo career, “just me sitting at the piano or lying with my guitar.” Growing up in a house filled with vinyl from The Doors, The Stones, and The Who, Star was influenced by the best and the brightest. Unfortunately, nowhere in the album do we hear any trace of them.
Despite amplified praise from the indie-rock world (ABC News Now called him “the next Neil Diamond”), Songs from the Eye of an Elephant is a purely pop album. R. Star has without a doubt and self-admittedly put his true feelings into his first solo album. My criticism comes from the fact that his true feelings are, well, childish and uninteresting, at least in the way in which he writes his lyrics and composes his music. The sullen, rainy day tone that envelops the album feels extremely contradictory to the words, which although true to life are awfully lacking in depth. In this way I compare R. Star to Chad Kroger of Nickelback, whose thirty-something year old mouth should not be singing pre-teen, adolescent lyrics. I have a hard time taking Star seriously when he backs a song called “Psycho Suicidal Girls” with a seriously emotional piano track. And the fact that when riled up and completely wrapped up in his music Star turns into 80’s hair metal god David Lee Roth doesn’t help anything.
Songs from the Eye of an Elephant, Ryan Star’s first solo album and his newly fashioned record label’s (Stone Crow Records) first and only release, is a twenty track album filled with grandiose piano choruses, an occasional acoustic guitar rhythm, and a lot of abrasive crooning over nonsensical issues. But if, like myself, you’ve always wondered what a David Lee Roth solo album would sound like if he was a softcore piano player, you’ll want to give Songs from the Eye of an Elephant a listen.