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airline people
For Stars
Airline People
Acuarela

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Made up of outtakes from For Stars and Windows For Stars, the band's first two US albums, Airline People stands as a strong testament to the strength of For Stars' material. Carlos Forster is a master of melody, and he sounds like a softer-spoken version of Jackson Browne. Like Browne, the band's home is California; their instrumentation, though stripped to basics, also bears similarities to Browne's early classics, and the light Caribbean touches make me wonder if David Lindley made a guest appearance. The most beautiful song on this 15-minute EP is "Brown Skin Saint". It boasts a simple but beautiful chorus ("We have dreams/They make us laugh/We have guns/They make us cry"), and Forster's vocals are at their most yearning and sincere. "Motorway" carries a similar impact, but the light harmony vocals make it a touch prettier (for better and worse). With each song, I found myself marvelling over Forster's lyrical skills; unlike most songwriters, who kill to be clever, he uses words sparsely, suggesting that his sole intent is to create a good song. It's the best approach a songwriter can take, and the it's the reason why Forster's songs feel like poetry -- good poetry.

In these short songs alone, Forster warrants a devoted cult of people who feel, and might well be, "too sensitive" for the world. And yet there is one troubling spot: a lyrical misstep which occurs during "The Racecar Driving Scene". This majestically sung ballad, which starts off at a slow heartbeat, contains this this quick little jab: "I joined the Christians/In the attempt that I'd be found/I had no money/So they ran me out of town." It makes me wonder if John Lennon's remark, "God is a concept by which we measure our pain," was pop music's last interesting critique of religion. I'll subtract nothing from the praise which came before, but it's a shame that even music's most gifted and astute lyricists repeatedly collapse into cliche when dropping their thoughts on faith.

Should Forster start to use his gifts of introspection across all of life's main subjects, there will be no good reason for a music fan to bypass any For Stars release. It is songs like his which bring light to the sky and reveal reasons why we are fragile underneath.

-- Theodore Defosse
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