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MUSIC REVIEW: Starlett & Big John “Living in the South”

Written by on March 20, 2023

‘Living in The South’, is the new album by Starlett & Big John, and released by Rebel Records. There are a whopping fourteen songs included in the album! I was lucky enough to see Starlett & Big John in person this last year and purchased one of their previous albums. Last year, I felt that the band showed some of their roots in Bluegrass and some in Country. However, with this album, the grass on the path that was taken, was definitely Blue.
Out of the 14 songs on the album, 6 are original music written by Starlett and Big John. Those include ‘The Ties That Bind’, ‘Quit Quittin’ You’, ’Living In The South’, ‘Straight 58’, ‘Slowly let Me Down’, and ‘Clean Slate’. The others include, ‘Makin’ Tracks To Macon’ by Barney Rogers, ‘Settin’ The Woods On Fire’ by Fred Rose & Edward Nelson, ‘Back Away Little Heart’ by Jake Landers, ‘Makeup and Faded Blue Jeans’ by Merle Haggard, ‘My Brown Eyed Darling’ by Paul Humphrey, ‘The Dirt That You Throw’ by Damon Black, ‘Safely In The Arms of Jesus’ by Sonny Throckmorton, and ‘Deepening Snow’ by Harlan Howard.
Besides Starlett Boswell Austin on Bass and Vocals, Big John Talley on Guitar and vocals, the contributing musicians include Jonathon Dillion on Mandolin, David Carroll on 5 String, and Ron Stewart on Fiddle and Production.
‘Back Away Little Heart’ is a lively, fun Bluegrass tune, even though it’s about broken hearts. ‘Clean Slate’ has an outstanding vocal by Starlett, maybe one of her most outstanding, reminding this writer of Patsy Cline. ‘Deepening Snow’ also suggests a broken heart, shows Starlett’s versatility and tugs at your heart all at the same time. Not to mention the wonderful harmony of Starlett & Big John. ‘Living In The South’ is one of two songs pre-released as a single, it is absolutely beautiful, and certainly worthy of being the title track!
‘Makeup and Faded Blue Jeans’ is a Merle Haggard cover, this rendition is lively real ‘grass, that found me stompin’ my foot, and lookin’ for a dance partner… ‘Makin’ Tracks To Macon’ has an outstanding lead vocal by Big John, some great harmony, and outstanding instrumentation. ‘My Brown Eyed Darling’ features a classic duet of Starlett & Big John and finishes with an acapella chorus that left me hoping for MORE of that. ‘Quit Quittin’ You’ is an original by Starlett and John, but has an appealing traditional or old timey feel.
‘Safely in The Arms of Jesus’ is a beautiful Bluegrass Gospel cover. ‘Settin’ The Woods On Fire’ is lots of Bluegrass fun, featuring the whole band. ‘Slowly Let Me Down’ is terrific and features excellent work on the Mandolin. ‘Straight 58’ is the other pre-release single, and features the entire band. Very well done! ‘The Dirt That You Throw’ feels traditional. ‘The Ties That Bind’ wraps the album and is another sweet original from Starlett and John.
Your reviewer believes that ‘Living In The South’ is the best work I’ve heard from Starlett & Big John. I love it when an album is jam packed with excellent songs, as this one is. And, there is virtually no drop off whatsoever in any of the songs, which means not only were the songs performed and mixed in excellent fashion, the album was produced and thought out very well. Further, I was particularly impressed by the original music written by Starlett and John! I loved every one of them. In my opinion, and if I only had one sentence; ‘This album should be a big breakout for Starlett & Big John!’
You can reach Starlett & Big John on facebook at @starlettandbigjohn. On Instagram at @starlettandbigjohn. And on their website

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