Chris Stamey

Lovesick Blues

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Chris Stamey spent the first few years of the 2010s reviving the past, acting as the music director for an ambitious live staging of Big Star's Third (aka Sister Lovers) and reuniting with the dB's for 2012's Falling Off the Sky. Stamey must have gotten the guitar crunch out of his system in the dB's, as his 2013 record Lovesick Blues -- his first solo effort since 2005's A Question of Temperature, where he was backed by Yo La Tengo -- echoes the contemplative, shimmering folk-pop of the quieter moments of Third, albeit refashioned so its introspection doesn't play like a long, dark night of the soul. Stamey swaps Third's tugging undercurrent of despair for a comforting melancholy, turning Lovesick Blues into a warm bath of melody, harmony, strings, and gently strummed acoustic guitars. Lovesick Blues doesn't wallow within sweet sadness, it builds to a mild mid-album crescendo consisting of three sparkling pop tunes: "Astronomy," "I Wrote This Song for You," and "You N Me N XTC," the latter boasting some guest arrangements from Andy Partridge. This trilogy adds dimension to Lovesick Blues, shedding some light onto its sad corners and also casually illustrating Stamey's mastery. In somebody else's hands, the introspection of Lovesick Blues could turn solipsistic or sodden, but he strikes precisely the right notes, creating an album that serves as a suitable soundtrack for long, lonely nights.

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