While I’d love to say I have a good excuse for this cd sitting on my computer desk unreviewed for the last four months, but the simple truth is that, like so many albums that I need to review, I just have not had time. This year has really wrecked havoc on my downtime and I still haven’t figured out how ninebullets.net fits into that, but fear not, good people, fit it in I shall and this post is supposed to be about Zoe Muth’s album and not a woe is me and my private life post, so let’s get down to it.

As I said, Starlight Hotel is an album that’s been on my “to review” list for months and every time I’ve played her on the radio I’ve received terrific feedback from the listeners, which only made me feel shittier about not having her on ninebullets yet. For a while I even considered trying to pawn this album off on RomeoSidVicious, since it’s more in his wheelhouse, but in the end I honestly loved the album too much and wanted to be the one who wrote about it.

Starlight Hotel sounds like it could have come out of some unknown town an hour or so outside of Austin, Texas, despite Zoe’s Seattle roots. Vocally, she sounds like a less nasally, Southern-drawled version version of Iris Dement, likely thanks to her Seattle roots. There was a time when I would not have believed that at least some portion of Zoe’s backing band, The Lost High Rollers, wasn’t from the South, but if the internet has taught me anything it’s that roots music is largely the same no matter where you happened to be born. There really isn’t anything about Starlight Hotel that feels contrived or disingenuous, which is more than I can say about a lot of the music coming out of the South these days. Starlight Hotel is one of those albums that you need if your first exposures to country music came from the static-y radio in the cab of your dad’s old pickup truck.

Not to mention, it’s Essential Listening.

Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers – If I Can’t Trust You With A Quarter (How Can I Trust You With My Heart?)
Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers – Before The Night Is Gone
Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers – Let’s Just Be Friends For Tonight

Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers’ Official Site, Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers on Facebook, Buy Starlight Hotel


  1. Zoe is very much what I always wanted Neko Case to be. Conjuring images of a hot ride in a ’76 Chevy truck with sun-cracked dash and vinyl seats, choking on the smell of dust and Pall Malls, rolling down the window with a pair of vise grips clamped where the window handle once was, looking out the window at blown-out tin-can RVs, neon lights, and run-down dens of meth in a destitute downtown abandoned by the railroads that once fed them, Zoe is the 21st-century evolution of the AM radio queens that ruled the airspace in that bygone age, when a man’s truck played BOTH kinds of music–Country AND Western. Zoe has most of the ingredients to have taken up that mantle for me, most notably a voice that turns my very blood to PBR and my heart to jelly and a classic beauty that looks untouched by Nashville’s contrived formula. Her voice carries itself with an authentic swagger that is rarely found in “country” (term used loosely in order to include all artists that define themselves as such); often, female artists in the realm of “country” portray themselves to be either waif-like victims of men and life or tomboyish balloons of bravado (I’m looking at you, Sugarland), which often belies whatever true talent or life stories that can be heard in the subtle nuances of voice, tone, and pronunciation of a person that allows themselves the vulnerability to give away all they have to whomever will take it.
    Listen to this album sitting on the tailgate of your truck on a cool night, listening to the cicadas and swatting mosquitos, sipping a sweaty, half-cold beer. Don’t look for it to feed your Taylor Swift, Gillian Welch, or even Neko Case craving…just let it ride.

  2. After loving her first release it took me a little bit to warm up to this album but I find it an excellent sophomore release. My only disappointment is only in myself as I have not found the time to go see her live yet…

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