Andy Stochansky – Five Star Motel

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Although FIVE STAR MOTEL is Canadian Andy Stochansky’s major label debut, he has already released two highly acclaimed albums – 1999’s RADIO FUSE BOX and 1995’s WHILE YOU SLEPT – and played with the likes of Ani DiFranco, the Barenaked Ladies and Jane Siberry.

Having begun on the piano and evolved into an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, FIVE STAR MOTEL sees Stochansky move away from the “pop that could easily be played by a symphony” of his first two albums and embrace a more stripped-down, guitar-oriented sound.

That’s not to say these songs lack polish in any way. HERE NOT THERE is embellished by lush strings and the rocktastic MISS USA is underpinned by some very modern lo-fi beats, while MAVIS SAID… builds from a simple piano into a rousing flourish. Throughout it all is Stochansky’s sublime voice, part Thom Yorke, part Jeff Buckley, sending shivers down the spine.

And it’s not just the music that tugs at the heartstrings. While 22 STEPS is about that singer-songwriter staple, unrequited infatuation, MISS USA takes the unusual angle of trying to help a father understand his gay daughter, while on the single WONDERFUL, Stochansky dreams of becoming a superhero…in order to bring back his grandmother.

FIVE STAR MOTEL is a fitting introduction to a musician of considerable talent and heart. While it is far from groundbreaking, it is a confident and polished sound and is bound to find an audience in these acoustic rock times.

4 stars