Al Start burst on to the UK acoustic music scene in 2004! Her style is as striking as she looks! She writes quirky songs about quirky things...life, stories and hidden histories.
Al’s melodies are sweet, soulful and incredibly catchy, her strong guitar style provides the perfect balance.
Al has recently branched into writing and performing children's songs. She works in schools teaching singing, guitar, ukulele, djembe, composition and songwriting. Her latest releases "Excellent Songs For Children" are collections of catchy children's songs aimed at the 4-11 age bracket. So far they have gone down a storm!
Al's mission is to write record and produce high quality children's music. There are no nursery rhymes here, the lyrics are clever and witty, the melodies strong and catchy.
"Adults have to listen to their children's music too, so my songs are for the whole family"
www.alstart.co.uk email….. email@example.com
***BRAND NEW ALBUM OUT NOW***
Al Start - vocals, guitars, ukes, banjo, percussion
(occasional band: Kellie Santin Drums/Percussion/Clarinet & Sax; Lorna Thomas Bass & BV's: Michele Allerdyce percussion)
"Lammas" (2000) - Released on Lone Coyote Records, UK. LP
"Sea of Stars" (2003) - Released on Lone Coyote Records, UK. EP
"GO" (2005) - Released on lone Coyote Records, UK. LP
Featuring : Stickleback, 4 Grey Cats, Tongue Tied all receiving air play on UK radio.
"4 GREY CATS" (2006) Lone Coyote Records - Single
"I HEART HISTORY" (2008) Lone Coyote Records- LP
Ten songs telling the true tales of Brighton's history as the town where anything goes! Love/betrayal/murder/deceit...it's got it all!
"EXCELLENT SONGS FOR CHILDREN" (2009) Lone Coyote Records - LP
Aimed at 4-11yrs..great fun, catchy songs for kids and their grown ups! Listen online at www.alstart.co.uk
"EXCELLENT SONGS 2" (2010) Lone Coyote Records - LP
More great kids' songs
"EXCELLENT ROCK 'n' ROLL FOR KIDS" (2011) Lone Coyote Records -LP
A rockabilly spooky-themed album with full band, great for Halloween!
GO - Album Review, Rainbow Network
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HOME » MUSIC » REVIEWS CD: Go 21 November 2005 Girls who like girls who play ...HOME » MUSIC » REVIEWS
21 November 2005
Girls who like girls who play and perform their own music are going to love Al Start. Go is not her first offering, but it looks as though it could be the release that takes her over to the big time, so listen up.
Go features a sparse, natural and intimate sound with thoughtful arrangements. The album has been put together with what sounds like the minimum of studio trickery – what you see is what you get. Reminiscent of The Beatles in their White Album period (but probably without the hallucinogenics, eh Al?), Go also channels the drowsy ghost of Kirsty MacColl.
The first four tracks run the gamut of 1970s Tom Petty guitar heroics to loose 90s Stone Roses / Primal Scream beats. There’s a Carole King-style ballad and a minor key acoustic guitar track that inhabits some ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ territory.
The variety at the beginning of Go later gives way to more or less wall-to-wall wistful acoustic bliss, although it breaks on ‘Take It Back’ for a big pop sound. If that’s not a single then I’ll eat my hat. In the meantime, the mild melancholy bossa beat of ‘4 Grey Cats’ brings to mind Everything But The Girl at their jazz-pop best.
What Start does best is write the songs. There are some well observed character studies of the Ray Davies school, along with more abstract mood pieces. Her tribute to her sister, Catherine, is both touching and bittersweet.
Britain is experiencing a renaissance of lesbian singer-songwriters at the moment, or maybe they never really went away. Al Start, Belinda O’Hooley, Nat Ripepi and of course Horse and Alex Parks are only a few of the trailblazers. Gone are the days when the genre meant some stringy woman with a sorry guitar wailing about the patriarchy. These babes mean business.
Slick, well-produced and sexy as hell, this is modern music with a heart. It’s the kind of thing that anyone would like – fancy that!
Anyway, enough ranting, Al Start is currently touring with Belinda O’Hooley. Check her website for details, buy this CD and don’t miss them.
Read our interview with Al Start.
Go, by Al Start
Label: Lone Coyote Records
You can get hold of a copy of Go, by visiting Al Start’s website at www.alstart.co.uk.
By: Charlotte Cooper
Go - Album Review & Interview
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Hot off her tour with Belinda O'Hooley, singer songwriter Al Start, who will be appearing at YLAF 20...Hot off her tour with Belinda O'Hooley, singer songwriter Al Start, who will be appearing at YLAF 2005, has just released her debut album. Al's music is firmly rooted in the acoustic tradition but there is a light breezy pop feel to her music too. The song themes range from childhood, cross-dressing neighbours, surreal dreams and candid confessions. Great songs, catchy melodies and a fabulous voice.
On the spot...
What's your favourite music artist or CD?
Joni Mitchell - she's such an amazing songwriter.
What's your favourite film?
I love films... so have many faves... Fried Green Tomatoes has to be up there though!
What's your favourite TV show?
I really enjoyed Desperate Housewives recently.
What's your ideal romantic getaway?
A secret camping location not to be disclosed,. Under the stars with a fire lit and no-one around for miles... mmm!
Who was your first crush on?
My infant school teacher of course!
What age did you come out?
Officially, 18. When I got to Brighton, discovered there was such a thing as a gay scene and that I wasn't in fact going to "burn in hell".
Who would be your fantasy date?
Ani Difranco, so I could pick her brains about how to start my own music empire!
Describe your workspace,
I write songs at home in private (unless I'm co-writing) but I get ideas for lyrics/melodies and themes all over the place. So I have to scribble on anything that comes to hand - serviettes, tissues, my hand, someone else's hand...! And I often ring my own answer phone and sing stuff down the phone so I don't forget it! (Must look like a nutter!)
What's your favourite indulgence?
I'm too skint to have many... but I do like a Sunday Roast in a nice country pub!!
Who or what would you send to Room 101?
Homophobia - come on people, get rid of it, it's rubbish!
What's the most romantic thing you've ever done?
Write a love song for my loved one! Ah!
What's the most challenging thing you've ever done?
Supporting Horse on UK tour last year... I had to go through the fear barrier! Was just me and my guitar on huge stages playing to massive audiences - I loved it though!
In the movie of your life who plays you?
Hopefully me!... Or Tom Cruise??
Who would you like to have been in a former life?
Oh... The Man from Atlantis?
What's the meaning of life in one sentence?
Follow your heart, experience as much as you can, and give up your day job!
Lammas - Review
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If you have been to Brighton Pride this summer, you will probably remember Toucan, the electric/acou...If you have been to Brighton Pride this summer, you will probably remember Toucan, the electric/acoustic band who opened the main stage. Originally formed in Brighton by Cheryl and Al, lesbian sisters who share their passion for acoustic music, Toucan (their name is a pun on two can) began as a duo. A few years ago, they decided to add three boys to the band on drums, bass and guitar to complement their sound. Their next step was to record an album with the strange name of Lammas, which is the name of a pagan summer fire festival.
The resulting mix is rootsy pop and romantic ballads with lush female vocals. Although acoustic guitars dominate the album, drums and samples are also used to give the songs a more urban feel, sounding at times close to Beth Orton's work, with a similar vocal timbre to Tracey Thorn from Everything But the Girl.
My favourite track is the melodically strong Seven Deadly Reasons, with its intimate vocals and subtle dreamy production. On Siren City, they try too hard to sound contemporary however, and the use of drums and samples overpowers the work. Overall this is a really promising first album. You won't be disappointed if you enjoy lovely harmonies and soaring melodies as well as romantic meaningful lyrics. Lammas would provide the perfect warm summer soundtrack to a love affair on the beach in Brighton.
CDBaby Buyers Reviews
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“GO” ALBUM REVIEWS FROM BUYERS… *****Stunning, sexy, full of emotion, original lyrics and grea... “GO” ALBUM REVIEWS FROM BUYERS…
*****Stunning, sexy, full of emotion, original lyrics and great acoustics.
Reviewer: Vathou -London, UK
This album is brimming with emotion and heart rendering lyrics. Al Starts vocals and acoustics are enough to give any top selling artist a run for their money. I loved it the moment I played it and it is rarely out of my sound system. This is simply a must for any music collection!
***** `Go` is a must if you’re an acoustic music lover!
A truly beautiful album. Full of emotion, meaningful lyrics and cleverly arranged. Al Start`s guitar playing is remarkable and the quality of her voice far exceeds many of the mainstream singer/songwriters that are on the circuit today. I have played this album to death and it just gets better and better! I promise : you will not be disappointed in this album.
*****Buy this album!
Reviewer: Jenny, Ireland
Stumbled across Al's website online one day & I bought GO on the strength of hearing part of one track...& I wasn't disappointed. It's hard to compare her to other artists - she's simply got her own style. To try and pick a favourite track is impossible, the entire album is beautifully produced, and along with Al's voice it's impossible to remove from your stereo! All I can say is buy it now! Al is headed for great things!
****Slick, well-produced and sexy as hell, this is modern music with a heart.
Reviewer: Rainbow Network
Go features a sparse, natural and intimate sound with thoughtful arrangements. The album has been put together with what sounds like the minimum of studio trickery – what you see is what you get. Reminiscent of The Beatles in their White Album period, Go also channels the drowsy ghost of Kirsty MacColl. Slick, well-produced and sexy as hell, this is modern music with a heart. It’s the kind of thing that anyone would like – fancy that!
*****An original and diverse musical treat
Reviewer: Marina Cronin
GO! is yet another brilliant album by this underrated and little-known artist. With witty, intelligent and often very moving lyrics, sung with a beautiful voice, GO! ranges from heartbreak to humour, via every emotion in between, and is a truly original and diverse musical treat. Buy it and discover the secret world of Al Start!
*****Take a chance on this album - you won't regret it!
Fantastic songs, beautifully arranged with slick production. Stand out songs for me - the anthemic Black Crow is almost Robbie Williams Angel-esque - but prettier; Soul Intent is pure uplifting feel-good pop guaranteed to make you grin when the chorus kicks in; Stickleback loops and trips in a most delightful way; 4 Grey Cats pays homage to Al's affection for Joni Mitchell; and last but not least, Tongue Tied would give kd lang a run for her money anyday - melting vocals and a blinding guitar solo. Take a chance on this album - you won't regret it!
*****Great songs, catchy melodies and a fabulous voice.
Reviewer: Dykelife magazine - August 2005
Al's music is firmly rooted in the acoustic tradition but there is a light breezy pop feel to her music too. The song themes range from childhood, cross-dressing neighbours, surreal dreams and candid confessions. Great songs, catchy melodies and a fabulous voice.
*****A truly original album sung with the familiarity of an old friend.
Reviewer: GScene magazine, Brighton UK
Her new album GO is undoubtedly a landmark in her career, which will lead to the long-awaited recognition of a voice which has the ability to emanate pure emotion and somehow throw it back to us as entertainment. No weak fillers. No dud tracks. This is a truly original album sung with the familiarity of an old friend. It went into my system and stayed there.
BBC Review: Al Start & Belinda O'Hooley UK Tour
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"Al Start & Belinda O’Hooley" Reviewed by site user Julie Gibson. Julie from Hartlepool has just..."Al Start & Belinda O’Hooley"
Reviewed by site user Julie Gibson.
Julie from Hartlepool has just made the long journey to Hebden Bridge to catch the very last night of Huddersfield's Belinda O'Hooley and fellow singer-songwriter Al Start's latest tour, "Winter Acoustic Tour 2005".
Opposites attract, and never has that been more true than with singer-songwriters Al Start and Belinda O’Hooley. The duo combined their talents for a Winter Acoustic Tour, which will have earned them an army of new fans and raised their profile throughout the country.
Al, the dark one, with the spiky hair and striking eyes, plays guitar and sings quirky songs about rent boys and cross-dressers; Belinda, the blonde half with a winning smile, plays the piano and sings about suicide and love. Individually, they are two of the most talented female singer songwriters around; put them together and you have a fantastic night of entertainment, listening to some of the freshest material around.
I caught up with them at the Trades Club, in Hebden Bridge where they were bringing their 15-date UK tour to a close.
Al opened her set with Rent, “a feisty little number” from her new album Go. After seeing a more subdued performance a week earlier in Hartlepool, it was obvious from the first chord that the Brighton girl was out to have a good time. She was full of confidence and clearly excited to be playing to a packed audience.
A lot of Al’s songs are autobiographical, and she continued with Stickleback, an amusing tale about the antics of a former neighbour. But don’t get caught up in the humour of the song – this is a top track and should be taken seriously.
After Palm of your Hand, Four Grey Cats and Surrey, Al was joined on stage by Belinda for a cracking performance of Seven Deadly Reasons giving the audience the first opportunity to hear the duo’s cool harmonies. Al ditched her guitar for a festive treat, joining Belinda in Last Christmas and she can be forgiven for having to read the words as the girls brought a touch of humour and a hint of melodrama to the Wham classic!
Another song from the album, Take it Back, showed the talents of both girls, Al’s great vocals and Belinda’s jazz-style improv on the piano. But Al had saved the best until last as she showed what a sexy rock chick she is with her own Harley followed by a brilliant cover version of Addicted to Love.
It was a tough act to follow, but Belinda rose to the occasion. The Huddersfield girl with Irish roots is a bit of an enigma. She was born to entertain and can have an audience in stitches with her stories and one-liners, but at the flick of a switch, she can perform the most heart-rending numbers with a voice which demands to be listened to.
After Blanket of Night, from the album, Al returned, as Belinda reminded the audience about her TV success on Stars in Their Eyes when she won the grand final with her portrayal of Annie Lennox. Who’s That Girl was the number she chose by the Eurythmics diva and the girls’ voices complemented each other perfectly.
Al continued to lend her support as Belinda returned to the album with Afterglow before they went straight into Grease classic, You’re the One that I Want, a much mellower version than the original.
The girls had had a lot of ups and down on their tour, but the audience at Hebden Bridge ensured their tour finished on a major high. They are unique performers, bright and creative, and deserve all the success which is hopefully heading their way.
They are set to go back on the road for a mini-tour in February. Make a note in your diary.
Julie caught up with Al and Belinda at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge on Thursday 15th December 2005.
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Al Start Is Ready to Go by Sharon Hadrian, August 24, 2006 We must forgive out lesbian...Al Start Is Ready to Go by Sharon Hadrian, August 24, 2006
We must forgive out lesbian rocker Al Start for writing songs about eclectic topics; she's had a very multifaceted life. From growing up in an ultra-religious household to spending a decade battling cancer, her songs are a reflection of the universal themes of life — but with a twist.
Start grew up in 1970s England under the thumb of an “obsessive religious freak” of a stepmother and an acquiescent father. Her one saving grace was that her family was musical, and she kept her sister awake at night singing impromptu songs — an indicator of a career to come.
By age 7, Start had discovered the word “lesbian” and was in love with a girl in her class, much to the disdain of her classmates. “I was bullied, and something clicked in my head, making me bury the feelings and pretend to be ‘normal' for the next few years,” she says. “By the time I was 13 though, there was no escaping, so I kept it to myself and hoped I wouldn't have too miserable a life.”
She didn't; in fact, she discovered a release. Start found a guitar at age 11 and began taking music more seriously. “As soon as I could play three chords, I was away!” she quips.
Life, however, didn't get any easier, and her parents tried many times to make Start “turn straight.” She had her first relationship with a girl at age 16, then fled to Brighton — England's “gay Mecca” — at 18 and found out she wasn't so different after all.
Start dove right into the late-80s gay rights scene. Inspired by Section 28, a 1988 British law mandating that local governments not “promote homosexuality” or “pretended family relationships,” Start's early activist groups published Queer Tribe, Brighton's first gay magazine.
“It was full of arty interviews with creative queers — poetry, pictures, news and views,” Start reflects. “I was so proud of it, I sent a copy home to prove to my parents how strong and proud my gay community was. They promptly threw it out, wrote to me with their ‘actually, you will burn in Hell'-style letter, and the tone was set for the rest of my life.”
Unfortunately for Start, that tone was not initially positive, and it almost ruined her burgeoning music career and her life.
At age 21 she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and she spent the better part of a decade battling the illness. “I had to have nine years of radio iodine treatment, and they had to operate twice to dissect the cancer off my poor little vocal chords,” she says. “Guy's Hospital in London saved me! They did a brilliant job, and I owe them a lot. It was grim, grim, grim though, and stopped me from achieving anything in that important decade.”
Finally, in 1999 Start received the all-clear on her cancer, and was able to get back to living. She started a band called Toucan with her sister, Cheryl, and they recorded several albums.
In 2002, Start went back to college to study music, then set out on her solo career; a year later she was promoting Sea of Stars, a six-song EP, and playing the British club circuit. Around that time she also became involved in Brighton Pride, the largest free Pride festival in the United Kingdom, and she is now part of the team that organizes the Women's Performance Tent for the annual event.
Ever the go-getter, Start also launched her own record label, Lone Coyote Records, à la Ani DiFranco. “Why sit around and wait for someone to notice you and give you permission to record and tour?” she asks. “Nah! DIY is the way ahead.” The result is her latest release, Go, which she has deemed her “best work ever.”
Go personifies Start's attitude toward life, though the title came about a bit more innocuously than one might imagine. “[It's] from my name,” she says. “I've spent my life saying, ‘Al Start. Start, like go,' to explain my name. I wanted this album to have a really positive title, something that is like a launch or beginning. The word go can be used in loads of different ways, and features in almost all of the songs in some way. So it seemed a fitting title.”
Filled with a diverse selection of song topics, the album features everything from cross-dressers (“Stickleback”) to songs about noisy upstairs tenants in the sex trade (“Rent”). “I try to pick unusual topics for songs, just to take people by surprise and give them a break from the dull old tripe that keeps getting churned out,” Start says. “I like to write about things we can all identify with, but with a twist, [and] I love a good story.”
The album also has the expected love song or two, though Start is quick to mention that's not her forte. “I write about all kinds of things, not just women,” she says. “Diva magazine recently described me as a gay songwriter who writes about lady-lovin'. [That] couldn't be further from the truth!”
Her voice is reminiscent of sentimental lesbian songstresses like k.d. lang, but when Start does write about romance (with a twist, mind), most of her songs tend towards ambiguity, such as the beautifully acoustic “Waiting for Life.”
She believes this is where she's able to reach her audience, beyond the oft-used “lesbian singer-songwriter” label. “My music is not exclusively gay; in fact, I'd go so far as to say that there is very little reference to ‘gayness' in most of my songs,” she says. “I'm not a political activist. I'm a singer-songwriter.”
Still, she tends to stick with what she knows: “I write about women a lot because I don't know the first thing about men! If the song's about a woman I never try to hide this.”
Start has toured with seemingly everyone in the U.K. queer scene, from Horse to Belinda O'Hooley, and co-written songs with artists such as Jill Sobule. This summer she even played the main stage at EuroPride, in front of 25,000 fans in London's Trafalgar Square, and she has also reached countless fans through live concert webcasts on sites like virtualgig.co.uk.
In October 2006, Al hopes her fan base will continue to grow as she embarks on her own U.S. tour, hitting gay hotspots like Provincetown, Mass., and also making mainstream stops all along the East Coast, including New York and Boston. Then in November she comes home to finish her tour around England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, her first as a solo, headlining artist.
With her own record label and no one — not a religious upbringing, or a decade of cancer, and least of all music executives — to stop her, Start hopes to carry on being herself and writing about her extraordinary life. “I'm actually grateful for the experience in some ways,” she says. “It has shown me how to live for the moment and follow my heart. It's the reason I am who I am.”
Even her religious fanatic parents, she admits, have made her the strong, positive force she is today, and she wouldn't have it any other way. “I think it has made me stubborn, unwilling to take shit from people, and damn proud of who I am,” she says.
“I am out and proud and not ever going to let my sexuality be a reason for anyone to hold me back. It's the reverse psychology thing; I had so much to rebel against, and Jesus made me an arsey lesbian to piss my parents off. So I'm really just doing the Lord's work!”
Find out more about Al Start at alstart.co.uk, or purchase her album on iTunes.
IndieMusic.com: Album Review
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Reviews: Al Start ~ GO Posted on Saturday, August 05, 2006 @ 07:45:47 EST Topic: Reviews ...
Reviews: Al Start ~ GO
Posted on Saturday, August 05, 2006 @ 07:45:47 EST
Artist: Al Start
Quote: "Start not only possesses emotional depth, she is masterful when it comes to humorous tales as well."
By Liza Monroy
Indie Brit chick Al Start’s songs are like kd lang’s looks and sounds colliding with Joni Mitchell’s lyrical storytelling. This guitar-strumming singer-songwriter can bring a tear to your eye singing about a lost cat on “Old Smokey,” make you reminisce about childhood memories with “Catherine,” something of an ode to her sister, or remind you of a lost one on “Emily” – “May you always find the song in the garden ... may you always feel the sun in the mornings ... you will always stay this young while I grow older.”
Start not only possesses emotional depth, she is masterful when it comes to humorous tales as well. “Stickleback (Harriet by Night)” is a warm account of a cross-dressing “neighbour” who is, as the title implies, Harry by day, Harriet by night. The range and strength of these songs speaks of Start’s talents; she started writing and performing at the age of twelve, and was invited four times to Chris Difford’s (of Squeeze) residential songwriting retreat, where she co-wrote with Jill Sobule.
Start is overdue for a live Stateside debut, so listeners are invited to suggest venue ideas to her through her website.
Set lists vary according to the venue and length required.
I have enough original material for 2/3 hrs
I have enough cover versions for 2 hrs
I also now offer a talk with visuals and live music, on the album "I Heart History" and all the stories behind the songs
**NEW**Family and children's events - fun songs with lots of audience participation and actions
I generally play original material, but can throw in covers to suit the event.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.