10 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The crushed-velvet voice of Stuart Staples finds a near-perfect sonic setting on Leaving Songs, the British singer/songwriter’s best-realized offering since his departure from Tindersticks. Staples embraces American alt-country here, recording the album’s tracks in Nashville and enlisting Maria McKee for a duet on “The Road Is Long.” There’s a gritty barroom ambiance hanging over these tunes, suggestive of inebriated nights and painful morning-afters. But Staples doesn’t imitate country stereotypes as much as find his own version of honky-tonk balladry. “One More Time,” “This Old Town” and “That Leaving Feeling” move with an easy, melancholy flow that skirts the edges of old-school soul and European chanson. On “The Path,” Staples actually grooves, although with a downcast grace. He achieves an almost mystical glow on “Pulling In to the Sea” as he sings its yearning lines in a dusty murmur. The track arrangements are rich but understated, as burnished and evocative as the singer’s vocals.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The crushed-velvet voice of Stuart Staples finds a near-perfect sonic setting on Leaving Songs, the British singer/songwriter’s best-realized offering since his departure from Tindersticks. Staples embraces American alt-country here, recording the album’s tracks in Nashville and enlisting Maria McKee for a duet on “The Road Is Long.” There’s a gritty barroom ambiance hanging over these tunes, suggestive of inebriated nights and painful morning-afters. But Staples doesn’t imitate country stereotypes as much as find his own version of honky-tonk balladry. “One More Time,” “This Old Town” and “That Leaving Feeling” move with an easy, melancholy flow that skirts the edges of old-school soul and European chanson. On “The Path,” Staples actually grooves, although with a downcast grace. He achieves an almost mystical glow on “Pulling In to the Sea” as he sings its yearning lines in a dusty murmur. The track arrangements are rich but understated, as burnished and evocative as the singer’s vocals.

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6:13
3:53
3:11
3:44
3:15
2:09
4:02
3:32
4:00
2:57

About Stuart A. Staples

Like Tom Waits or Mark Lanegan, Stuart Staples has a ragged voice that sounds like it's been wrecked by years of cigarettes and alcohol. Whether singing his lyrics in a whispery croon or incoherent mumble, Staples captures the twilight atmosphere of a lonely, dilapidated pub, creating sorrowful music that has little punch in daylight but becomes cathartic for lost souls in the late evening. In 1992, Staples formed the Tindersticks, originally a trio called Asphalt Ribbons, in Nottingham, England. Including Asphalt Ribbons members David Boulter (keyboards) and Dickon Hinchcliffe (violins) as well as Neil Fraser (guitar), Mark Colwill (bass), and Al Macaulay, the Tindersticks immediately won over the British press with their eponymous first LP in 1993, selected as Album of the Year by Melody Maker. Often compared to Waits, Nick Cave, and Leonard Cohen, Staples' erotically charged and hauntingly disconsolate stories about relationships expanded the Tindersticks' audience with each outing. Through word of mouth and stellar reviews, the band established a loyal following in America in the '90s with no commercial radio airplay. Although the Tindersticks' later efforts, such as 1997's Curtains and 1999's Simple Pleasure didn't achieve the universal acclaim of their earlier LPs, Staples was still regarded as one of the finest songwriters in England. In 2005, he released a set of solo work, Lucky Dog Recordings 03-04, on Beggars Banquet, followed by Leaving Songs, also on Beggars Banquet, in 2006.

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