Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
The strummy, ringing pop/rock of his older albums and last year’s successful DBs reunion Chris Stamey is a far cry from the orchestrated, dreamy chamber music that dominates his first solo release since 2004. Tinkling pianos, vibes, tablas, brushed drums, string quartets and the singer’s innocent, laid back vocals all make this wistful gem perfect for lazy Sunday mornings. But thankfully these meditative songs never feel dreary, mopey or self-pitying due to Stamey’s sheer joy and enthusiasm. Leonard Cohen is name checked in the descriptive “The Room above the Bookstore” and it’s likely his fans would love to add this meditative set to their collections. A few peppy selections such as the heartfelt tribute to one of Stamey’s influences in “You n Me n XTC” jump out of the misty vibe, but with others named “Wintertime,” “Occasional Shivers” and “Wrote This Song for You” the vast majority of the tunes float in a haze of timeless, occasionally jazz inflected melodies that implore you back for another listen. In its more melancholy moments there are slight similarities to Big Star’s Sister Lovers, a live rendition of which Stamey served as music director for this past year. Lovesick Blues is a beautifully layered and marvelously written work that will sound as good in thirty five years as Big Star’s 1978 classic does today.