Ellensburg, WA, is a small town in Central Washington which you will likely never have the occasion to drive through, unless you attend the Sasquatch Festival in George, Washington (really), which is something you should probably not do.
Ellensburg is also home to Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, an Americana-infused rock band whose full-length album, The Only Thing That Matters, was stuck in my car’s CD player for six months. Without delving too deeply into the psychology that kept me from fixing this problem, it’s safe to say that the fact I can still enjoy, let alone tolerate this album, speaks volumes.
On The Only Thing That Matters, Star’s huge, gritty voice ranges from soft to sprawling to searing over the Laughing Dog’s bar-band rock rhythms. This album neatly dodges falling into the break-up album category by turning the focus, and much of the blame, on Star herself. Her wrenching lyrics (“I’m too drunk to feel…I’m not drunk enough to feel like I’m free”) outline her own flaws and failures, and this introspection makes the album at once more compelling and relatable.
Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs will be performing live in Portland at the White Eagle this Saturday, March 13th with Kasey Anderson.