Chris Stamey: Lovesick Blues (Yep Roc)

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Chris Stamey: Astronomy
Chris Stamey: Lovesick Blues (Yep Roc)

Given Stamey was one of the mainmen in the dB's who bridged Beatlesque power-pop and college radio indie-rock (eg REM) in the Eighties, this solo outing might come as a surprise.

He mostly dials down the backbeat and repositions himself as singer-songwriter with one foot in the slightly dull country-folk camp (the funereally paced seven minute title track) or gets tripped out in a late 60s way (the orchestrated, Indian-influenced and droning Astronomy).

There are still flickers of his pop persona (the acoustic opener Skin, You n Me and XTC) but most of these songs sound much more personal and often quite intimate.

That said, there's at least one too many songs about being a musician (the tediously indulgent London elevated only by strings, I Wrote This Song For You) but the most delightful entries (the dreamy Anyway, that repeat-play Astronomy, Wintertime) are the keepers and while the five minute-plus Room Above the Bookstore might seem endless he pulls you into his allusive narrative.

Much of this refers to styles and influences from before the dB's era (Brian Wilson in places) and, if not always successful, at its best suggests a rewarding direction for a man who knows songcraft.

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