Stuart Staples doesn’t have his own website. He doesn’t even have a myspace page. I tried, even using that ‘A’ middle initial that he’s insisting on using for his solo releases. But nothing. It’s not really a big problem, it just makes it harder to me to check out his new material, as I hurriedly do some ‘research’ before the gig on Monday at Bush Hall.
The Tindersticks lead singer is playing a few low key shows around Europe to promote his second solo album Leaving Songs, and I’m there along with the ‘Sticks / Staples faithful for the gig at Bush Hall, the Edwardian music hall that’s always a fine setting for live music. I missed his first solo record completely, so after failing earlier, I’m going to have to go on the strength of what I hear tonight, for the first time.
Thankfully, it’s all pretty impressive. Stuart Staples has one of music’s most unique voices. He joins the ranks of men who are not conventionally great singers, but do have a great voice, something iconic. So it’s hard not to think of Tindersticks, as he plays through the set, particularly on the slower, more mournful numbers. But there’s also something a bit different. The music seems to be a bit more, well, American. Maybe it’s something to do with the Townes Van Zandt song he covers. Or maybe the one that reminds me of Calexico. Or maybe it’s just the freewheelin’ Americana feel of the more rock ’n’ roll numbers. You wouldn’t get Tindersticks doing that, surely. Later I find that his new album has been recorded in Nashville with Mark Nevers (of Lambchop fame), so maybe that also explains something.
The band are tight, with fine stand-up electric bass action, some sweet piano and a lot of unusual herky-jerky moves from the drummer. Stuart is quietly charismatic, saying little and concentrating on the music. He’s clearly enjoying himself though. All in then, a great gig, which makes me eager to hunt down more of Stuart’s records. I’ve done a quick search, which has so far yielded the following. Now looking forward to hearing the album...
Download: Stuart A. Staples – That Leaving Feeling
Download: Stuart A. Staples – Dance With an Old Man (live acoustic on Belgian radio)