Velvet Starlings mingle 70s nostalgia with 21st century angst on new single “Sold Down the River”

Velvet Starlings

Art by MAWD

Christian Gisborne, the 15-year-old singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind indie outfit Velvet Starlings, hits the nail on the 70s stylized head with his single “Sold Down the River.” Billed as a Cage the Elephant meets Jim Morrison hybrid, Velvet Starlings lean heavily into the comparisons and a lot of it is perched on Gisborne’s sonorous wails. Hoarse, cutting, and informed by a grit that is wielded strangely well by the young singer, Gisborne lifts the song’s Dylan-esque lyricism from a trite pining of decades past into an impassioned commentary of today’s socio-political climate. From the opening medley by a truly sublime vox continental organ, “Sold Down the River” is an anthemic melding of everything from rock, folk, and spiritualized gospel harmonies. Previous comparisons aside, Velvet Starlings share a lot with indie-rock bad-boys and counter-culture enthusiasts Portugal. the Man–right down to the eerie way Gisborne’s vocals pitch and warble the way John Gourley’s does. Which seems pretty apt, considering both mark The Beatles, and particularly for Gisborne, Lennon’s later solo endeavors, as huge influences.

“We’ve always been influenced by the way The Beatles worked their bridges in, which in some songs their middle eights are as good as the verse or chorus, for example, “We Can Work It Out.” Gisborne said of their inspirations. “Listening back to the mix it has all of the ingredients of our sound, 1960s organ riffs, guitar and group vocal stylings, but it actually has a four on floor dancy beat on chorus two and three, which wasn’t really on purpose as the song started an acoustic song and we added production around it. I feel it stands up at stripped down in live performances maybe even more as it really allows the lyrical content and ideas we are trying to get across to be easily heard.”

But the purpose of “Sold Down the River” runs deeper than the origins of its sonic stimuli. For Gisborne and company, it’s a bit of a rallying cry–and also pretty on the nose. A generation force-fed beliefs by “political, religious, and medical establishments” on what is considered healthy or good for the soul, as well as “outdated” notions on the kind of love that can exist between two people, are all tackled on the single.

Listen to Velvet Starling’s new single “Sold Down the River” below!


The band has two Los Angeles dates slated for next month, with a performance for Sofar Sounds on October 19 and one at Madame Siam on October 20. Their upcoming self-titled EP is planned for a release this Fall. Visit the Velvet Starlings Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on future releases and tour announcements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.