David Starr - Beauty and Ruin
  • The Road To Jubilee (Featured Track)(5:00)
  • Beauty And Ruin (Featured Track)(4:02)
  • Rise Up Again (Featured Track)(4:37)
  • Laurel Creek (3:34)
  • Laura (3:30)
  • Bury The Young (3:26)
  • Of What Was, Nothing Is Left (6:08)
  • The Cracks Of Time (4:04)
  • My Mother's Shame (5:32)
  • Fly By Night (3:53)
  • I Don't Think I'll Stay Here (4:41)

Contact info:
David Starr

For more information, please contact:
Kate Richardson, Richlynn Group

Click here to go to David Starr Catalog

"I am thrilled to bring Beauty & Ruin to global radio via AirPlay Direct. Producer John Oates and I assembled a great band and some amazing songwriters to make this deeply personal record based on my late grandfather's book"

Beauty And Ruin is the most deeply-personal project I've ever done. Having John Oates and so many talented writers and players involved has truly been a rewarding journey. The fact that the album is based on my grandfather's book is icing on the cake!"  - David Starr, Independent Artist / Producer

"It is like watching a movie. "The cinematic aural landscape visually evokes a classic tale of tragedy, love gone wrong and an exploration of human nature and all its flaws." ~ John Oates, Producer / Artist

"The entire project is an "aha!" moment: the concept of writing songs to tell the tales of a haunting book’s characters. And more than that, "Beauty and Ruin" pinpoints the essence of the human experience." ~ Melissa Clarke, Americana Highway

"These are storytelling songs at their best, rendered by some of the best writers and musicians in the genre." ~ Jim Hynes, Country Standard Time


Release Date: February 21st, 2020

Americana artist David Starr is embarking on a new musical and literary adventure with a collection of songs inspired by ​Of What Was, Nothing Is Left,​ a novel written by his grandfather in 1972, which Starr plans to re-publish. ​Beauty And Ruin,​ recorded at Addiction Sound Studios in Nashville,​ ​is produced and arranged by John Oates, co-produced by David Starr and David Kalmusky.

The final book Fred Starr published before his death, ​Of What Was, Nothing Is Left​ is a story of tragedy, family dysfunction, and denial set in rural southwest Arkansas. After working with John Oates (Hall & Oates) on his 2017 ​The Head And Heart E​ P, David approached him with the following idea: what if we gave several of our favorite songwriters a copy of the book and asked them to write for a concept album based on the story?

The idea was not so much for them to re-tell the story, but to write songs inspired by the places, characters and situations found in the book. Contributors to ​Beauty And Ruin​ include John Oates, Dana Cooper, Doug and Telisha Williams (Wild Ponies), Irene Kelley, Wood Newton, Shelley Rae Korntved, and Jim Lauderdale.

Early previews of ​Beauty and Ruin ​prompted one listener to say "This is like watching a movie". The cinematic aural landscape visually evokes a classic tale of tragedy, love gone wrong and an exploration of human nature and all its flaws. Set in late nineteenth-century Arkansas, the original novel inspired these artists to mine their own history and life experience. This album hammers home the importance of storytelling through our country’s oral traditions reimagined through the spirit of Fred Starr's original book and now musically brought to life by his grandson, David Starr's, unmistakable and emotional vocal performance.

The re-publishing of the book along with the compilation of 11 songs has an anticipated release of summer 2019. The book will contain a forward with creative input from the songwriters involved, including interviews with each songwriter featuring insights into process and inspiration from the book.

Of What Was, Nothing Is Left​ - Summary

The final book Fred Starr published before his death, ​Of What Was, Nothing Is Left​ is a story of tragedy, family dysfunction, and denial set in the late nineteenth-century. A fourteen-year-old Frank James and his family move from Ohio to a family farm in Laurel Creek, a small plot in rural southwest Arkansas. Soon after unloading their few worldly possessions, a neighbor, Captain Johnson rides up. A former soldier and a legend in the Laurel Creek community, the Captain enlists Frank to his employ. Frank is set to work delivering livestock to the next town over, Jubilee. In their first few years together, Frank grows to greatly admire the Captain and is immensely proud and happy with his life. Alas, "There is nothing in this life as permanent as change." What comes next is a tale of loneliness, jealousy, heartbreak, and revenge peppered with nostalgia and vivid imagery of the sandy soil and piney woods of the region. A true Americana story, the novel explores human nature and all its flaws.

About Fred Starr:

An accomplished teacher, writer, lecturer, and representative, Fred Starr started his working life in education in the 1940s. As teacher and principal, he taught commercial law, English, business math and accounting. By 1948, he was appointed to be superintendent of the Elkin’s school district, a post he held for several years. Then in 1954, Starr was elected to represent Northwest Arkansas in the state House of Representatives, where he served two terms. From the later 1950s until his death in 1973, Starr wrote several books, his final being ​Of What Was, Nothing Is Left​ in 1972. Most were about or set in the Ozarks, a place he truly loved for the richness and beauty of a simple life. In that time he also wrote a column, "Hillside Adventures," and other articles for the Northwest Arkansas Times. In the paper's tribute to the Arkansas treasure, they wrote, "These hills of ours are grander, more satisfying for those who know them, thanks to Fred Starr's having taken the time to help us understand them. In that respect, he was a teacher of uncommon perception, a conservationist ahead of his time, and a folk artist of all too rare a quality."


Producer: John Oates
Co-Producer: David Starr, David Kalmusky
Recorded: Addiction Studios, Nashville

Musicians on Beauty and Ruin:
David Starr: Lead Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocal
John Oates: Background Vocal
Tania Hacheroff: Background Vocal
Ian Fitchuk: Drums, Percussion
Glenn Worf: Bass
Dan Dugmore: Electric Guitar
Tom Bukovac: Electric Guitar


1. LAURA (3:30)

Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
David Starr / David Starr Music / ASCAP
John Oates / Oates Shui Songs / BMI

ISRC Code:TCAER2043737

"Laura you’ll never be mine / though I look to the moon and the stars for a sign / you belong to another / the truth is unkind." As echoed through the chorus, "Laura" is a song of love and longing for a relationship that can never be. Writers David Starr and John Oates drew their inspiration from Frank’s complicated relationship to Laura in ​Of What Was, Nothing Is Left.

2. BEAUTY AND RUIN (Featured Track) (4:02)

Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
David Starr / David Starr Music, ASCAP
Dana Cooper / Dog Eared Music/Bluewater Music / SESAC

ISRC Code: TCAER2043743

When Dana Cooper is out on tour, he takes time to explore each town. From small-town squares to local cemeteries, Cooper photographs what intrigues him. In reviewing his photos, David Starr noted one of his captions, "So much beauty and ruin out here," and the song was born. Finding beauty in ruin is an overarching theme for Fred Starr’s novel—reveling between devastation and light.

3. RISE UP AGAIN (Featured Track) (4:37)

Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
David Starr / ​David Starr Music / ASCAP
John Oates / Oates Shui Songs / BMI

ISRC Code: TCAER2043751

David Starr went through a difficult surgery in summer 2018, the same one his father went through before he passed. Right before David went in for the operation, he had a vivid and frightening dream of his father and grandfather. A true dark night of the soul provides the motivation behind this anthem of it not being your time to go.

4. BURY THE YOUNG (3:26)

Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
Doug and Telisha Williams / ​Bully Goose Publishing / BMI

ISRC Code: TCAER2043756

"Mothers shouldn’t grieve their babies, fathers shouldn’t mourn their sons." Capturing the grief associated with losing a child, “Bury The Young” is a call for action beyond thoughts and prayers. A biblical reference in the story of the Captain weeping over Jody’s body as King David wept over Absalom, coupled with the then-recent devastation of the Parkland shooting, moved Doug and Telisha Williams to pen this song. From biblical times to the present day, this suffering is timeless and demands to be felt.


Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
David Starr / ​David Starr Music, ASCAP
John Oates / Oates Shui Songs / BMI

ISRC Code: TCAER2043763

The title of the novel which inspired the whole project, “Of What Was Nothing Is Left” encapsulates the major plotlines of the story. “Everything changed the day you crashed into my world.” Written from Frank’s perspective, everything was idyllic before Laura to town. She comes in and blows up his world, sparking a chain of events no one could have anticipated.


Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
David Starr ​/ David Starr Music / ASCAP
Shelley Ray Korntved

ISRC Code: TCAER2043767

“The Cracks Of Time” started with a poem written by Shelley Ray Korntved about Jody and the undeserved burdens he faced. The title itself was actually inspired by Cindy. In her reading, Korntved noted how Cindy was always taking care of everyone but herself - living only for herself in little cracks of time in between.

7. THE ROAD TO JUBILEE (Featured Track) (5:00)

Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
John Oates / Oates Shui Songs / BMI
David Starr / David Starr Music / ASCAP
Jim Lauderdale / Wudang Mountain Songs / SESAC

ISRC Code: TCAER2043770

In reading the novel, John Oates was taken by the name Jubilee, the town with the train station. This song takes the form of a daydream Frank is having while he’s at Cummins Farm penitentiary, a historically cruel prison. Frank is trying to keep himself centered and sane, dreaming about finally getting out and going back home again.


Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
David Starr / David Starr Music / ASCAP

ISRC Code: TCAER2043775

The theme of shame runs throughout ​Of What Was, Nothing Is Left.​ Each character is hiding something, everyone is denying something. Laura rationalizes going out and getting a child by any means, though knows that’s the not right thing to do. “My Mother’s Shame” is told from Jody’s standpoint - going through life misunderstood, feeling like you never had a chance.

9. FLY BY NIGHT (3:53)

Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
Wood Newton / ​​Rope A Note Music / BMI
David Starr / David Starr Music / ASCAP
John Oates / Oates Shui Songs / BMI

ISRC Code: TCAER2043779

Wood Newton was inspired by the traveling salesman of the story, Henry Vaughn, and all the trouble he left in his wake. Secrecy, shame, and denial. Laura saw the salesman as a way to get a child, regardless of the cost. The cost ultimately ends up being the son she so desperately wanted. All the writers on the project gravitated toward Jody, as almost a tragic James Dean kind of character. He knew all along that something wasn’t right, although his family told him otherwise.

10. LAUREL CREEK (3:34)

Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
Irene Kelley / ​​Shiny Stuff Music BMI
David Starr / David Starr Music / ASCAP

ISRC Code: TCAER2043784

After reading the novel, Irene Kelley was deeply affected by those who chose to end their lives via drowning. “Laurel Creek” reflects on how grief can be so overwhelming you just want to be set free from it. Near the end of the song, the line “Southern voices sing you are finally free”, calls out to all the work songs echoed in the fields throughout the novel.


Songwriter, Publishing & PRO:
David Starr / David Starr Music / ASCAP
John Oates / Oates Shui Songs / BMI

ISRC Code: TCAER2043794

In their travels, both John Oates and David Starr have been affected seeing local haunts being torn down and replaced. “I Don’t Think I’ll Stay Here” chronicles how things gradually disappear and you have to move on. We idealize places. Like Frank, we want things to stay like they are and they never do.


David Starr possesses “a compelling voice, something truly special, both accessible and passionate” (Elmore), that has been honed releasing nine albums, touring internationally, and opening shows for esteemed artists such as John Oates (Hall & Oates), The Steel Wheels, Survivor, and more.

Beauty And Ruin, Starr’s latest project is a musical and literary adventure, produced and arranged by John Oates and co-produced by himself and David Kalmusky. It is a collection of songs inspired by Of What Was, Nothing Is Left, a novel written by his grandfather in 1972, which Starr plans to re-publish. “It is like watching a movie,” says Oates. "The cinematic aural landscape visually evokes a classic tale of tragedy, love gone wrong and an exploration of human nature and all its flaws." Beauty and Ruin is set for release in early 2020.

“A collection of beautiful, poetic and somewhat sad songs with a warm and organic production that draws you in and wraps around your heart,” writes Americana Highways of Starr’s 2018 record, South and West. The record follows an acclaimed EP, The Head and Heart, also produced by John Oates and the full-length Love and Sabotage with special guests like John Oates, Richie Furay, Dana Cooper and Steve Cropper.

Starr’s prestige extends beyond the stage as well, having launched Starr’s Guitars in Little Rock in 1998, then relocating to Cedaredge in 2001. Today, the store is such an institution that Cedaredge proclaimed the musician’s birthday as David Starr Day in 2016. He was also instrumental in the 2018 opening of the Grand Mesa Arts Center, an intimate event space brought to fruition through strong community support in Cedaredge, CO. Starr helped design the space in order to attract musicians and visual artists to Southwestern Colorado.

Starr says of his upcoming Beauty And Ruin project, “This project is important to me for several reasons. There’s the family connection through my grandfather’s book, the songs that were born out of his story and the intense collaborative nature of the whole project. I can’t wait to share it with the world.
  • Members:
    David Starr
  • Sounds Like:
    Don Henley, Jackson Browne, JD Souther, Eagles, Poco
  • Influences:
    John Oates, Dana Cooper, Jackson Browne, Eagles, Eric Clapton, Don Henley, The Band, JD Souther
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
  • Profile Last Updated:
    06/03/24 11:25:05

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