Jen Starsinic

Hummelstown, PA, United States


Emerging fiddler and songwriter Jen Starsinic may have gotten her start as a fourteen year old bluegrass fiddler busking on a street corner, she may have gotten her training at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, and she may be touring with some of the biggest Americana bands in the land (David Mayfield Parade), but her immersion in American roots music is as much a story of fire halls and bonfires. Of the people and stories and miles she's picked up as a young, but well traveled, touring musician. And of all night jam sessions at old time festivals across the nation such as Clifftop, West Virginia's Appalachian Stringband Festival, the historic and eponymous home of old time music. “I discovered an older, purer, more satisfying way of experiencing music. There's a certain moment after playing wild music all night when the sun is about to come up and the night is quiet again, and you're with new friends you've made through this mayhem, and you know you're going to carry that moment with you, and that moment and those songs are going to be like friends to you.” The trance-like communal music making that's the hallmark of American roots music is at the heart of her anticipated debut album The Flood and the Fire. Jen wrote every song on the new album, tapping into her love of old time, bluegrass, country duets, folk rock, and old-school twang. On the album she combines a beautiful voice, powerful guitar, and virtuosic fiddle skills with her stunning talent as a songwriter. And yet the album doesn’t feel like anything created by your typical “singer-songwriter.” It feels more like a celebration of the way music draws people closer together, forming new friendships with each song. A Pennsylvania native transplanted to the center of the Nashville scene, Jen is joined on The Flood and the Fire by a host of notable musician and friends from across the US. David Mayfield himself lends his vocals, and Charlie Rose and Eric Law bring their pedal steel and cello. Canadian banjo player Allison de Groot of the band Oh My Darling joins in on the song “Six-Foot-Three”, and Molly Tuttle, of the Tuttles with AJ Lee, brings her guitar to the song “Ragdolls”. The album was produced by fellow Berklee grad Brady Custis, and recorded in Somerville, MA at a home studio in August (in 100 degree weather with no air conditioning and no fans!). You can hear the vibrant intimacy of the moment, and you can hear this is the kind of risk-taking music making that can only be done with the help of great friends and a strong community. The Flood and the Fire is a beautiful mixture of modern songwriting and American roots music. The first number, “Time to Lose”, opens with folk-pop vocals reminiscent of Lisa Loeb or Kimya Dawson, but the powerhouse guitar and banjo backup propel it to something far more. The same is true of track four, “Six Foot Three”; it’s a reminder that the old time sound need not stay stuck in the past. “The Only One Who Can Break a Heart” is a perfect honky-tonk tear-jerker worthy of Pasty Cline, but it is followed by the haunting “It’s a Foreign Thing”, performed with solo voice and fiddle. It’s a touching lament in a performance that brings to mind the playing of Bruce Molsky. The Flood and the Fire is a marriage of old and new, a blend of harmony and poetry, and the debut of a powerful new voice in American folk music.


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