Since 1993, Starflyer 59 has quietly become one of the most consistent and strong artists on the Tooth & Nail roster. Even with side projects (including Bon Voyage and Neon Horse), frontman Jason Martin has always offered good music in the form of Starflyer 59 and their latest album, The Changing Of The Guard, is no exception. This time, Starflyer 59 exposes listeners to another indie/alternative release which includes mellow vocals and a wonderfully fluid album.
Although The Changing Of The Guard doesn't have quite the same individual diversity of Starflyer 59's previous album, Dial M, the project runs together incredibly well for a captivating thirty plus minutes. The only track that doesn't really flow with the record is "C Mar," which is a quirky, retro-esque pop rock tune. The other nine tracks start off with the solid "Fun Is Fun," which sets the tone for a seasoned indie rock album with a constant western vibe going on throughout. Although "Coconut Trees" stands out as the album's most unremarkable song, The Changing Of The Guard has a few strong highlights to go along with an otherwise solid lineup. While the beautifully melancholy "Truckers Son" and the piano-driven "If I had A Song For The Ages" are impressive tracks, "Lose My Mind" has a truly epic feel as it concludes the album brilliantly.
Martin has stated that the album is about change, and often dwells on how the singer feels about it. In "Time Machine," the singer wishes he could return to his younger years ("I can't do a thing to stop time from moving/so I'm looking for a time machine… that takes me there again") and, despite Martin's dead-pan vocals, both "Time Machine" and "Truckers Son" are emotionally impacting songs. The singer's lack of confidence in himself on "Lose My Mind" could be a reference to Jeremiah 17:9 ("I have a bad taste in my mouth/could it be ‘cause I trust in myself/I have a bad feeling in my bones/could it be ‘cause I went in it alone"). Although the songwriting is intricate and compelling, the one potential downside is that the album doesn't have the clearer spiritual lyrics that Dial M featured.
After seventeen years in the business, Starflyer 59 certainly hasn't lost the ability to create a solid, distinct project. While the album may be short and the lyrics avoid obvious mentions of God, The Changing Of The Guard is still another worthwhile album from Starflyer 59.
- Review date: 8/8/10, written by Nathaniel Schexnayder of Jesusfreakhideout.com