Ellen Starski’s debut album “The Days When The Peonies Prayed For The Ants,” is surely one of the most unique titles in recent memory. In her live shows, she takes you along on the album’s autobiographical journey 12 years in the making from her origins in rural Reynoldsville, PA to Nashville. For the duration she spans genres from Americana to indie pop with a voice that would fit in anywhere from a bluegrass outfit to a headline spot on the former Lilith Fair tour. She flexed her classic rock muscles on the opening two numbers. “Time To Move On” had an early Tom Petty vibe while “Honey I’m Not Him” brought Stevie Nicks to mind.

Her husband Shawn and a very capable Derek Pell handled the string duties on guitar and fiddle, respectively. The interplay between them ranged from complimentary to competitive. Their improv jam featured Pell’s range from the finesse of Ricky Skaggs to the boot stomping thunder of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” On the other hand, Starski and her beautifully haunting backup vocalist were in mesmerizing sync throughout, be it harmonizing on her vocal runs or holding a single note at length while Starski took the entire verse.

The show’s most poignant moment came at the halfway point where she explained how a glimpse at the moon influenced the decision to name her child and inspired the beautifully stripped-down ballad, “Daughter Of The Sea.” The set featured six songs from the album and a sneak peek at a few from her upcoming sophomore release, the equally cleverly titled “Sara’s Half-Finished Love Affair.”


Like many artists going the indie route Starski is racking up her 10,000 hours, has crowd funded an album and has settled in Nashville. But unlike many, her sonic versatility, genre crossing diversity and heartfelt and meaningful lyrics make a label deal seem more than just a pipe dream.

For more info visit: http://www.ellenstarski.com/