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Ten songs you will not forget in a hurry,
This review is from: Leaving Songs (Audio CD)
I am loathe to confess this but.....well... I got bored with the Tindersticks. Every album seemed to plough the same old furrow. Sure it was usually beautiful, heartbreaking, solipsistic ... the usual adjectives but it also become wearingly predictable. So I stooped listening for their last two albums and when Stuart Staples solo album came out about a year ago I barely gave it a moments thought. But when I heard about this album my interest was piqued and I realised that I hadn't become bored with the Tindersticks but merely sanguine. In short I had started to take their careworn splendour for granted. So I have listened to this album and thank the lord I did .....It's tremendous ....in parts quite exquisite.
While the accusation could be levelled at The Tindersticks, and by proxy Staples, that they became far too comfortable with their whiskey soaked reveries it is also to some extent understandable, such delicious melancholia is addictive. Therefore it is no surprise that Staples has pretty much produced another Tindersticks album here. It's perhaps not as rich and textured as his formers band, but essentially we are in the same sepia toned territory. Recorded in Nashville which makes a perverse kind of sense as there has always been a motes of dusty C/W in his music the songs also takes in gently swishing strings , elegantly brushed percussion , exquisitely arranged piano and some of former band mates Terry Edwards plaintive brass arrangements. As ever with this music every song, indeed every note, seems perfectly placed. The songs are never over produced or wrapped in over fussy or florid instrumentation. The songs are allowed to breathe, although it's the breath of a weary heartfelt sigh, so as to allow Staples creaky baritone to percolate into the essence of the song. As ever there will be those who, on hearing him for the first time will think an inebriated hobo has wandered in to the studio but as ever we in the know will shake our heads in a resigned superior manner and mutter something about the triumph of real soul and beauty over technique and artifice. As usual we will be right.
Of course it doesn't matter how well Staples sings if the songs aren't much cop but on "Leaving Songs" there more than enough moments of true magnificence and the pervading ambience of lustrous resignation and uneasy truths. For a start there are two stunning duets. "This Road Is Long" with the incendiary Maria Mckee. Except here she isn't really, sounding resigned and broken, even more than Staples. Then there is "That Leaving Feeling "with Lhasa De Sela which would sit comfortably with "Travelling Light" in the pantheons of truly great duets. "One More Time "revolving around a hypnotic guitar refrain and subtle gauze of Hammond is just gorgeous, while the acoustic frame of "Goodbye To Old Friends" is punctured with liberal stabs of horn. Cascading percussion accepts a hold on "There Is A Path" whereas a veritable funky organ tip toes with abandon on "Which Way The Wind".
Once again Staples and in this case band of session musicians, have subjugated themselves to the service of the songs. No show boating, no cocky frippery, no masturbating egos, just ten tremendous songs on one tremendous album. It has this in common with classic soul music but there is something even more resonant at the core of "Leaving Songs" which once heard won't ever truly abandon you.