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Travels in the South

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Album Review

A founding leader of the influential cult band the dB's, Chris Stamey has spent most of last 15 years producing other people's discs (Alejandro Escovedo, Yo La Tengo, Whiskeytown) rather than creating his own. Not counting a 1995 instrumental album, Travels in the South marks his first record since 1991, when he released both the solo Fireworks and Mavericks, a duet disc with his old dB's partner Peter Holsapple. South, however, shows little sign of rustiness. The album kicks off with the glorious "14 Shades of Green," a chimey gem that takes a nostalgic look at a hometown. This leadoff track also establishes the theme of traveling that runs through the disc. Songs like "Insomnia," "Ride," and the title track all touch upon the feeling of life in transit. The sublime "In Spanish Harlem" takes a Paul Simon-esque look at New York City but with a decidedly eased-back Southern tempo. The entire album, in fact, rides along at a leisurely pace, with the majority of songs surpassing the four-minute mark. But Stamey uses his production savvy to build these songs into "mid-life symphonies," to make Brian Wilson's phrase more age-appropriate. A solitary piano and mournful pedal steel help to accentuate the longing in "Insomnia." A Byrds-ian guitar riff weaves through "Alive" and heavenly Beach Boys harmonies swell in "Kierkegaard." "And I Love Her," a prototypical Stamey love ballad, deftly blends '50s pop with the Beatles. It all results in a lovely, shimmery sound that won't disappoint fans of melodic rock music. Travels in the South reveals that Stamey remains ever the pop craftsman. Hopefully, he won't wait as long to craft his next disc.


Born: 06 December 1954 in Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

From his tenures with the Sneakers and the dB's on through to his subsequent solo projects, singer/songwriter Chris Stamey remained a linchpin of the jangle pop renaissance. Born December 6, 1954 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, he was raised in the Winston-Salem area, and alongside longtime friend and collaborator Peter Holsapple, he first surfaced in 1972 in the short-lived Rittenhouse Square, which issued its sole LP the following year. While attending the University of North Carolina in 1975,...
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Travels in the South, Chris Stamey
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