The B Stars felt that their first full-length CD was long delayed but in reality their timing was fine. What took time was adding steel guitar to the band, a move they made in 2009 when Mikiya Matsuda (Lady A and her Heel Draggers) came on-board to bring fullness to the honky-tonkin’, western bop sound of the new and improved B Stars.
Vinyl is the only thing missing in the authenticity department of their CD, Behind the Barn with the B Stars, but this is a small point. The sepia and Sun Records motif of the artwork, the pilgrimage to Wally Sound recording studio in Oakland, and a producer like Lee Jeffriess (Big Sandy, Johnny Dilks) are enough to tell us that something traditional is afoot. Think Lucky Stars for a contemporary reference or Lefty Frizzell for an older one.
There are minimal present-day references among the original songs by band leader Greg Yanito and bass man Eric Reedy. One such is “Ink Free Baby of Mine” which celebrates untattooed women, a theme that would have never occurred to Frizzell. Guest appearances by keyboard maestro Carl Sonny Leyland liven up four tracks, particularly “Pretty Baby” which introduces a tasty power boogie boost into the midsection of the CD. “Trouble Free State of Mind” is a standout track that celebrates California, and it’s a tune where Yanito wanders dangerously close to a full-blown yodel. Perhaps there are yodels and more tricks of the voice waiting for the next CD; that’s the promise of things to come from this one.
The playing is the CD’s strongest suit thanks to a bare minimum of studio and production frou-frou which freed the band to be itself. The arrangements are clean, the presentation is straightforward and the CD’s release was timed to be harvested at the band’s current peak. It’s a tasty plum well worth the pickin’.