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Album Review

On their sophomore release, Safe House Records' June Star offers a satisfying blend of atmospheric twang, hard-driving humbucker folk, and "Wayfaring Stranger" bluegrass. Mixing the overdriven, alt-country sounds of Son Volt with the heady, metaphorical lyricism of Fables-era R.E.M., Telegraph is musically and lyrically meaty. Polished acoustic guitar, banjo (Tim Johnson), mandolin (Tom Scanlan), and overdriven pedal steel figure prominently on most tunes, giving them a rich sonic texture. The album's palette is diverse as well. Expect heavy alt-country tunes, including the album's growling opener, "Thrown," and closing title track, "Telegraph," the most fully realized example of the band's sound. There also are more hushed country ballads and jaunts, including "Wedding Girl" and "Follow Me," which have an old-timey authenticity without being dated and contrite. Lead vocalist Andrew Grimm — who also plays guitar, harmonica, and banjo — pens the band's tunes. Lyrically dark, abstract, and sparse, they largely focus on the desolation of small-town life, the journey from innocence to experience, and the disillusioning power of truth. Grimm recasts these common themes more effectively in some songs than others. "New Jordon" is the standout. Grimm isn't beyond humor, though, as in the whimsical "If I": "By the time I try/You'll say I forgot." Grimm's limited vocal range and somewhat affected delivery do take some warming up to. That aside, Telegraph is a rock-solid release from a promising band.

Customer Reviews

Makes me sad, but I like it.

If you like folksy rock (not to be confused with country pop) then you will like this. The singer's voice might take getting used to, but it's the kind of music that you either love or can't stand. I happen to love it. If you liked anything from the "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack, then you'll like this.


Andrew Grimm is the man! He tears up the guitar


Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s

The nostalgic country rock of June Star stood out from much of the like-minded albums being released around the time of their debut. Where most roots rock had an urgent optimism that made for sing-a-long choruses and mainstream acceptance, June Star had a very different vision of the genre. Taking the Southern gothic imagery of Flannery O'Connor and blending it with the stripped down approach of later period Uncle Tupelo, their debut Songs from an Engineer's Daughter was a dark reaction to the...
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Telegraph, June Star
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