Photo: Amelia Booth

Songwriter Ellen Starski debuts her new single “Chasing the Sun,” from her upcoming album The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants, exclusively with C&I.

For fans of Ingrid Michaelson, Sarah Bareilles, and Allie Moss, Ellen Starski’s upcoming album, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants, makes for a grand introduction to the indie-folk world.

Set for release on May 11, the debut solo album features 10 tracks. We’re premiering one of them: “Chasing the Sun,” a lighthearted song that seems to float on a cloud, channeling a feel-good bubbly tone powered by accordion, ukulele, and glockenspiel.

“This song was inspired by a telephone conversion I was having with my dad one day,” Starski says. “I asked him, ‘Whatcha doin’?’ and his response was, ‘Chasin’ the sun!’ If I remember correctly, I said, ‘That’s a great lyric.’ After the phone call, I picked up my Epiphone and wrote this song for him. My father is an exceptional human being with a heart of gold. The best way I could think to pay tribute to the man who’s done so much for me was by putting word to paper, and paper to music. Everyone should be so lucky to have such an inspirational father in their life.”

The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants plays as an autobiography for Starski. Along with “Chasing the Sun,” the tracks on the album delve into small but significant moments of loss, heartbreak, and family, reflecting a period of self-discovery and the opening up of a whole new world as an artist for Starski.

She wrote the songs over more than a decade. The album encompasses Starski’s journey from learning guitar as a 19-year-old and singing blues in a bar band in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania; to the beginning of her solo career doing pub gigs and open mics in Knoxville, Tennessee; to the making of The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants in Nashville, her adopted hometown since 2008.

Produced by Anne McCue and aided by a handful of Music City’s top sidemen, the album ranges from sweeping strings to stripped-down piano to folky plucked guitar. Starski’s expressive voice provides the emotional glue and power.

The singer-songwriter credits having her daughter for a new-found ability to express her emotions openly and authentically in her music. The title of the record alludes to a symbiotic relationship in nature: Ants require the nectar of the peony, and getting it aids in the blooming of the flower. For Starski, it’s a metaphor for the growth and blossoming she’s experienced thus far in her musical journey.

Listen to Starski’s “Chasing the Sun,” below.

For more information on Ellen Starski and her new album, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants, visit her website.