Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
As one of the true unsung heroes of American alt-rock, dating back to the formation of the dB's in 1978, Stamey's fingerprints can be found on the catalogues of Big Star, R.E.M., Ryan Adams and countless others. Last year's dB's reunion brought some long-overdue recognition, which will surely carry on with Lovesick Blues, the North Carolina native's first solo effort since his 2005 collaboration with Yo La Tengo, A Question of Temperature. Although Lovesick Blues's title track isn't the song Hank Williams made famous, it's an apt reference point for an album that's a convergence of all of the sonic trails Stamey has followed throughout his career.
Chris Stamey spent the first few years of the 2010s reviving the past, acting as the music director for an ambitious live staging of Big Star's Third (aka Sister Lovers) and reuniting with the dB's for 2012's Falling Off the Sky. Stamey must have gotten the guitar crunch out of his system in the dB's, as his 2013 record Lovesick Blues -- his first solo effort since 2005's A Question of Temperature, where he was backed by Yo La Tengo -- echoes the contemplative, shimmering folk-pop of the quieter moments of Third, albeit refashioned so its introspection doesn't play like a long, dark night of the soul. Stamey swaps Third's tugging undercurrent of despair for a comforting melancholy, turning Lovesick Blues into a warm bath of melody, harmony, strings, and gently strummed acoustic guitars.
Chris Stamey’s Lovesick Blues is a grower. During the initial spins, I lost patience with the album’s sluggish pace and Stamey’s monochromatic singing. But then I gave it the headphone treatment, and a dazzling new world opened up. The subtle and often gorgeous instrumentation — strings and keyboards provide shimmery accents to Stamey’s chiming guitar work —revealed itself with an understated flourish.
Last year The dB’s released their first record in almost three decades, applying a fresh coat to their slightly nerdy, paisley power-pop. The Jersey four-piece’s bread and butter has always been to play it fast and loose. And while The dB’s—like many bands in the throes of middle age—will never be able to capture the pugnacious naivety of youth, their return in 2012 was more inspired than insipid.
Chris StameyLovesick Blues(Yep Roc)Rating: 3 stars (out of 5) The strummy, ringing pop/rock of his older albums and last year’s successful DBs reunion Chris Stamey is a far cry from the orchestrated, dreamy chamber music that dominates his first solo release since 2004. Tinkling pianos, vibes, tablas, brushed drums, string quartets and the singer’s innocent, laid back vocals all make this wistful gem perfect for lazy Sunday mornings. But thankfully these meditative songs never feel dreary, mopey or self-pitying due to Stamey’s sheer joy and enthusiasm.
After last year's dB's reunion, those looking to Chris Stamey for another dose of jangle might be surprised by Lovesick Blues. Neither blues, nor a guitar album for that matter, it's an introspective LP full of muted colors, orchestral sweeps, and choral harmonies. It's different from anything he's attempted before, yet it retains his clever melodic sense.