David Serby - Low Hanging Stars
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Low Hanging Stars (Blackbird, 2024)

David Serby

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

"Low Hanging Stars" marks the return of singer-songwriter David Serby to the recording studio after a 10-year hiatus. Serby is an L.A.-based alt-country musician who has previously released five albums, dabbling in folk and pop on his last couple. Here he returns to his trademark talents, writing character studies with clever word play in a country vein, as delivered by some of the city's premier country and roots musicians.

Serby, as he's done throughout his career, again collaborated with longtime producer, guitarist, engineer and friend Ed Tree at Tree's Treehouse Studio. Joining Tree on electric guitars are keyboardists Danice Bailey and Carl Byron, bassist Gregory Boaz and drummer Dale Daniel.

Opener "Fishtail Cadillac" plays to '50s rock and roll vibe, influenced by the many Jerry Reed 45s Serby listened to growing up. In his flair for humor, the lyrics have the guy willing to let the girl go as long as he can get his cowboy hat and Cadillac back. The Tex-Mex infused "Lonely Motel Days" has the protagonist visiting the liquor store, knowing the bottle will be his only companion. The title track laments the one-hit wonders who burn out quickly. Its jaunty roots rock vibe belies the sad lyrics, reinforced by the final unsettling chord.

There's a distinct retro feel to this record. As well as those previously mentioned, "She Ain't Changed At All," "The Jukebox Is Broken," and "I Bought the Ring" would fit well on '50s-'60s country radio. Serby speaks of his locale on the messy "Why Leave Los Angeles," but compensates on the shuffling, train narrative "Trying to Get to Encinitas." The pivotal track comes as the closer, "Is It Lonely In Here," an off kilter drinking song born when Serby found himself at the bar during an Americana brunch show and asked the bartender, "is it me or is it lonely in here?" Scratching those same words onto a handy napkin led to a song with imagery ranging from strippers to a cowboy boot stuffed with pills, and ultimately the whiskey in the glass spinning around like a drain. That is what Serby offers – a mix of the expected traditional along with some rather offbeat songcraft.

CDs by David Serby

Low Hanging Stars, 2024 Poor Man's Poem, 2011 Honkytonk and Vine, 2009

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