EMI Records – 2001 – 57 minutes

Arriving on the dreaded wave marked 'hype and expectancy', Chorley's Starsailor are the latest outfit to be afflicted with glowing pre-debut album plaudits, largely due to their lauded live shows. Named after a Tim Buckley song, Starsailor's retro leanings are evident before a note is even struck. With this in mind, musical futurists can leave the building now. But for the traditionalists among you...

Introducing their love with 'Tie Up My Hands', Starsailor prove from the kick-off that their focus is purely on guitars, piano and strong vocals. A darkly satisfying tale of unattainable affection, 'Tie Up My Hands' is a subtly potent taster. 'Poor Misguided Fool' is more upbeat, latest single 'Alcoholic' benefits from every listen, while 'Talk Her Down' is just one example of verses that are often oddly better than the choruses.

Many have pointed to James Walsh's voice as Starsailor's main strength. Sounding like a hybrid of Jeff Buckley and David Gray, with echoes of Richard Ashcroft thrown in for good (or bad) measure, it's hard to decide. Sweet? Not really. Overwrought? Definitely. Yet, for all this, Walsh's voice stays with you purely for its power and range.

"I need to be loved," he yells on penultimate track 'Good Souls'. It remains to be seen if the masses will love Starsailor, but on this evidence, many will certainly like them. That should do him for now.

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Tie Up My Hands – Poor Misguided Fool – Alcoholic – Lullaby – Way To Fall – Fever – She Just Wept – Talk Her Down – Love Is Here – Good Souls – Coming Down