Seven Star shows off UM-St. Louis student's talent: By Laura Hepburn

Published: Tuesday, January 20, 2004

St. Louis is thriving with talented musicians. From Mississippi Nights to the Creepy Crawl, there are local bands performing everywhere and all the time.

Considering this, it should come as no surprise that some of the local talent walks amongst the students at UM-St. Louis. Jaclyn Mayer (sophomore, music business) and Dustin Keller (freshman, graphic design) are two members of Seven Star, a local band with a lot to offer. Mayer, who plays bass guitar, and Keller, acoustic and electric guitars, are joined by Grant Essig (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Eric Cooper (electric guitar and backing vocals) and Jeremiah Miller (drums and backing vocals) to create the energetic and upbeat rock album "Superstar Wraparound."

This six track CD offers a sound that blends the fun, simple beats of Better than Ezra with the acoustic and vocal goodness of Dispatch. The music never sounds strained or forced, which provides the listener with a feeling of easy-going delight. The band also has the ability to perform as an ensemble, rather than rely on one star talent, which seems to be a rarer and rarer quality in modern music. Each instrument and talent is woven together to achieve a strong composition, not just fluff like many bands.

Though all members of Seven Star are obviously talented, the lead vocals will prove to be a unique asset. Essig sings very naturally with a smooth breathiness that will help Seven Star transcend many other local sounds. While it would seem there are tons of "vocalists" out there, finding one with a unique style and so much natural talent is not easy. Essig should help the band attract attention from music fans looking for something different

"Market Street" and "Over the Moon" are songs with a light acoustic rock sound to them, highlighting the guitars and vocals. "Break on Out" goes back and forth from gentle vocals and light guitar strumming to more intensive rocking, heavy on talent from all members. "Blue" and "Push" are both fun and energetic songs that make fingers and toes tap in time.

While these songs do have that upbeat edge that makes the album easy to listen to, they also have a little too much in common. The sounds get slightly monotonous and, once listened to, become a little bland. The exception is the song "Typical," which I felt to be the strongest song on "Superstar Wraparound." This track mixed the right amount of laid-back bass, perky drumbeats, rock-out guitars and delicious vocals. There is an especially good section in the second half of the song that makes a valuable contribution to the standout sound. "Typical" is just the spice needed on this otherwise mild album.

Any St. Louis resident who wants to support our fast-growing music scene should check out Seven Star. For those interested, I highly recommend the web site, one of the best local band web sites I have seen. There, one can find information on upcoming shows, look at pictures of the band performing and entertaining, read Seven Star cartoons and listen to some songs. With a little sound expansion, Seven Star has the talent to be a rising star in the local music scene. We should enjoy them while they are still close to home.