Reviewer: Rich Jevons
Following the success of last year’s tour and with more performance dates imminent The Rise &Fall of a Northern Star is a soundtrack that has been eagerly anticipated. The show, written and performed by Stella Grundy, tells the story of Tracy Star, a Madchester wannabe who sells her soul for stardom, only to see her world crashing down around her.
The songs really make the show but stand up in their own right too, ranging from catchy pop to psychedelic experiment. The first two tracks, ‘Moon’ and ‘High’ are liberally laced with drug references and describe Tracy’s artificial paradise before the purgatory and hell to come.
‘Supersize’, as the title implies, is about greed and over-consumption, describing life on the road for a rock’n’roll animal. In place of her sensual and breathy vocals, there is a haunting and creepy edge to Grundy’s voice here. This ghostliness goes up a level for ‘Hey Lucifer’, a demonic and disturbing portrayal of Tracy’s pact with the devil. Out of context this would be unlistenable, but it plays a necessary part in Tracy’s tale.
The mood lightens somewhat for ‘Goodbye’, a poppy roots reggae song about Tracy going solo in her quest for success. Then ‘Escape Hatch’ is a whacky and frenzied tune and a return to explore Tracy’s darker side replete with a euphoric cacophonic climax.
‘Blow Me Down’ continues in a zany off-the-wall fashion and the electronic is reminiscent of Grundy’s former band Intastella. ‘Heavyweight’ is a catchy keyboard sample that plays an important part in the narrative while the soundtrack ends with the jazzy ‘Just a Girl’.
If you have seen the show, this will be a must-have addition to your collection to remind you of this powerful production. If you are planning to go to one of the dates on the new tour, this recording gives a way in without being a spoiler.
The Rise and Fall of a Northern Star is available from the official website here