It's All in the Voice

Slidin' Home (Rebel Records)
John Starling and Carolina Star

By Bob Mitchell

Soulful acoustic and bluegrass vocalist John Starling rejoins his Seldom Scene cohorts, Mike Auldridge (resophonic guitar) and Tom Gray (bass) to form Carolina Star. Additionally, Starling is joined by some of the top studio musicians in bluegrass, including the incredibly talented Rickie Simpkins (fiddle), Jimmy Gaudreau (mandolin), Larry Stephenson (harmony and mandolin) and Jon Randall (harmony and guitar).

The results are an unmitigated success. Slidin' Home has that special and intimate sound which is generated when great players get together. The band's subtle approach and the use of minimal instrumentation provide the underpinning for Starling's restrained but passionate singing. And the result is a thoroughly enjoyable recording from start to finish.

Highlights include the appearance of Emmylou Harris harmonizing on a poignant "In My Hour of Darkness;" a smooth slightly bluesy cover of the Jimmie Rodgers classic "Waiting For a Train;" a plaintive rendition of "They'll Never Take Her Love From Me;" a feisty Ricky Skaggs' instrumental called "Irish Spring," and the touching and thoughtful "Prayer For My Friends."

The release is a showcase for one of the industry's richest voices. Highly recommended. For more information go to