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Stuart Staples

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    Stuart Staples

    Lucky Dog Recordings 8 ( 2005 )
    Somerset House / Marseilles Sunshine / Say Something Now / Friday Night / Shame On You / Untitled / Dark Days / People Fall Down / She Don't Have To Be Good To Me / Ive Come A Long Way

    Stuart Staples in solo career non shocker. I don't mean that in a bad way, for the voice of Stuart Staples will be adored by Tindersticks fans old and new and should be adored by everybody, really. 'Lucky Dog Recordings' is his debut solo LP, he works with a couple of his former Tindersticks bandmates and the music does indeed closely resemble the sound of the last few Tindersticks efforts, although with important differences. There's no orchestrations and the sound overall is generally of a far more minimalistic nature. It sounds very natural and organic actually, stripped back, and reminds me of the feel if not the sound, of the debut Tindersticks LP. 'Lucky Dog Recordings' was taped in Stuart's home studio during 03 and 04 without a clear purpose but as Tindersticks toured into 2004 it became clear Stuart didn't want to have to filter his ideas through the band anymore. Those songs recorded for himself have become 'Lucky Dog Recordings', for reasons best known to Stuart, but he says he likes simple phrases. Simple Pleasure, indeed. Simple, exquisite pleasure. 'Lucky Dog Recordings' captures something and I don't know exactly what it is. Stuart seems to like basing his songs around single, simple ideas which then form the heart of the composition. A difference between solo Stuart and Tindersticks Stuart then? Solo Stuart gets straight to the heart of the matter. Indeed, tremendous emotion is expressed throughout the record, but then we expect that from Stuart Staples, don't we? Simple ideas. 'Somerset House' is a repeating piano motif and a lovely sounding female singer harmonising with herself, softly. Three minutes into the four minute long composition, a lone, solitary trumpet arrives. That's 'Somerset House' and it's utterly ravishing. Like a Tindersticks b-side from 1993 in terms of impact. Exactly like that, yet even better. At the other end of the CD is what appears to be a long-lost classic soul tune. The Stuart Staples penned 'I've Come A Long Way', more than any other tune here, shows the enormous writing potential of the man and also shows that far from his career being over post-tindersticks, that it has indeed only just begun.

    His voice, thrown into focus as the dominant instrument on 'Lucky Dog Recordings' has never sounded better. The rich baritone is up close and personal, mournful and melancholy. He gets into situations and characters lyrically and paints pictures with his very effective use of simple words and sentences. 'Marseilles Sunshine' is such an example, the lyrics and voice accompanied by very simple organ putting you exactly into the soul of the song. 'Dark Days' sees a quiet acoustic guitar accompany Stuart and it's not so much a song as a single set of emotions in the form of a beautifuly lit snap-shot. 'Say Something New' is my pick of the bunch, though. A faster tempo, an angrier tune. A shuffling rhythm and most of those words, you keep throwing them like leaves in the fall and other lyrical variations. The song repeats around the same basis yet grows in impact and sound as it progresses. It's an instant classic worthy to sit alongside the finest moments of The Tindersticks catalogue. For all the inevitable similarities between Tindersticks and solo Stuart A Staples however, 'Lucky Dog Recordings' manages to feel like a whole brand new love affair. It's something new.

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    Readers Comments

    David Martin kinskis@hotmail.co.uk
    This is a really beautiful, beautiful record; an album to really keep close to your heart. I've loved the tindersticks ever since City Sickness, and obviously pray that they get back together, but it's a delight to hear Stuart coming up with a genuinely different and fresh sound. It's such an intimate and honest collection of songs, with simple but perfect arrangements. I completely agree with you about 'I've Come A Long Way'. It's stunning. I saw him play in Paris last month, and was literally reduced to tears when this was performed as the last number. Gorgeous. I'd also point out 'People Fall Down' and 'She Don't Have to be Good to me' as particular favourites, but it's not really a question of highlights; the songs hang together wonderfully as an album. 10 songs, 30 minutes or so, nearly every song a peach. The perfect makings of a truly quality album. I'm surprised that 'Leaving Songs' - his more recent solo album - has garnered so much attention, when Lucky Dog w! as released to such little interest. 'Leaving Songs' has some beautiful songs, no question, but I can't help but feel that it's a slight step backwards, with more immediately familiar Tindersticks themes at play: the duets; the quite familiar string arrangements...it lacks the freshness of Lucky Dog. I guess I've answered my own question, really: people obviously want that familiar sound, and I can't totally claim innocence myself, on that count, but in 'Lucky Dog Recordings', you get a genuinely different, gorgeous record, an album I'll be holding dear for many years to come. Great site, by the way, Adrian. Clearly a labour of love, and all the better for it! I look forward to your review of Leaving Songs, boss. Cheers!

    John, County Kildare, Ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    God bless college. Isn't it just fucking marvellous! A guy in my tutorial gave a lend of this last week. A fine achievement from Mr. Staples, and an album I'm definitely going to download, I mean go out and buy a copy of..... :-) 8.5/10

    GAZZA Edinburgh
    I agree with the positive reviews. After hearing this excellent record im a little surprised that the tindersticks have reformed (albeit in a different lineup) Staples doesnt seem to need them that greatly judging by this . Many of the songs here are barely sketched ideas ("shame on you" "dark days") but still manage to sound complete . From the opening eric satie pianos of "somerset house" through the heat haze stillness of "marseille sunshine" to the sheer beauty of the soul ballad "ive come a long way" this is a splendid album and matches the best tindersticks material while economically clocking in at around 37 mins . Id like to mention the horn player here too terry edwards whos playing is fantastic throughout but especially on the drunken sway of "people fall down" and the turbulent "say something new " Also staples voice sounds fantastic , like hes caught in the creative moment and he tries different things vocally but still manages to sound true to himself . ! Whats more to add ? Its a great album, - and the plantpots on the cover look fucking cool .

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    Songs For The Young At Heart 8 ( 2006 )
    Theme For The Young At Heart / Uncle Sigmund's Clockwork Storybook ( Robert Foster ) / Florence's Sad Song ( Stuart Murdoch ) / White Horses ( Cerys Mathews ) / Lion And Albert ( Jarvis Cocker ) / Robinson Crusoe / Hushabye Mountain / Morningtown Ride ( Suzanne Osborne ) / Inch Worm ( Kurt Wagner ) / Mary Mungo And Midge / Puff The Magic Dragon ( Bonnie 'Prince' Billy ) / Three Sneezes ( Martin Wallace ) / Hey Don't You Cry

    Miserable melancholic thirty-somethings revisting childrens songs from their youth might not seem an attractive proposition. Yet, this deluxe cardboard book+cd from Stuart A Staples and David Boulter of Tindersticks fame ( with 'The Lion and Albert' story by Marriott Edgar ) is very lovely indeed. They are joined by several guest vocalists and friends, the like of Stuart Murdoch ( Belle & Sebastian ), Kurt Wagner ( from Lambchop ) and Jarvis Cocker doing his very best Jackanory audition, reading the story of 'The Lion And Albert'. Boulter and Staples stripped back arrangements really bring out the melodies these tunes contain and having such 'cheery' fellows and Staples himself, Stuart Murdoch and Bonnie 'prince' Billy singing these tunes makes for an interesting combination. This project may have been inspired by the birth of David Boulter's child, but really this is music to soothe the furrowed brows of sad, lonely cardigan wearing thirty-somethings everywhere. Why, you don't even have to have had kids to enjoy it.

    Stand-outs for me include Bonnie Prince Billy really nailing the tale of 'Puff The Magic Dragon', his voice contrasting with a deep, stupidly voiced fellow named simply 'Red' in the liner notes. Stuart Staples gets two leads, one on 'Hushabye Mountain' and also on album closer 'Hey Don't You Cry', an original Staples composition. It's just acoustic guitar and Staples voice and 'Hey Don't You Cry' also manages to retain the bittersweet nature of much of the rest of the LP. Kurt Wagner of Lambchop fame, for instance, manages to be perfectly cast and positively creepy on his performance of 'Inch Worm'. Robert Forster of The Go Betweens is excellent on 'Uncle Sigmund's Clockwork Storybook', the words seemingly tailor-made for Forster to sing and Stuart Murdoch's 'Florence's Sad Song' from The Magic Roundabout is arguably the best of all.

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    this page last updated 13/10/08

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