The song: The lead single from Chesapeake, Rachael Yamagata’s first album since 2008’s Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Hearts, “Starlight” cements her transformation from a hushed folky to a full-on rocker in the mold of PJ Harvey. That comparison is going to get tossed around a lot, with Yamagata playing up her whiskey-scratched voice over a driving bassline and moody keyboards.
The video: Using a lo-fi, Super-8 aesthetic to great effect, “Starlight” intercuts home video footage of weddings and circus performers and skydivers with images of Yamagata, run through a battered film-reel effect, crooning into the camera in front of a brightly-colored carousel. There’s a young man of her fancy in the picture as well and if the goal was to compliment “Starlight”’s moody tone with a clown-at-the-state-fair aesthetic, they pull it off like gangbusters. The whole thing implies that love is a game for Yamagata, and like most carnival attractions, this game’s fixed.
The director: “Starlight” was directed by Laura Crosta, a veteran of the Microsoft “Really?” campaign, who gets to show off her artier side here. She’s got an impressive portfolio of music-oriented still shots, as well, but it looks like “Starlight” is among her first forays into music video.
“Starlight” doesn’t go for a straight narrative video, which suits the song’s scattered, more frantic mood. All of the intercut footage — and there’s a lot of it, mostly old timey shots of crowds and vintage, circus-themed imagery that complements the scenes of Yamagata at the carnival. Most of those intercut shots are pretty neat, too, with tigers crawling out of cages, fire-breathers and classic airplanes taking off and landing. It doesn’t quite tell a story, but it doesn’t really need to – when it comes to setting a mood that matches “Starlight,” the video does a hell of a job.