Chris Stills

Chris Stills

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Chris Stills Review

by Hal Horowitz

Recorded in 2005 and subsequently released in Europe and Canada of that year, Chris Stills' sophomore album took an unexpectedly tumultuous path to its eventual appearance in the U.S. nearly three years after it was recorded. The track list was also changed for the disc's stateside bow. The follow-up to his 1998 debut successfully widens the distance between his somewhat derivative initial offering as he stakes out more unique, personal territory apart from the folk-rock of his previous set. That has been replaced with an introspective and appealing pop/soul mélange which not only distances him from his famous father Stephen, but is unique in its own right. Credit goes in part to producer Hod David (Maxwell) who assists with the instrumentation and finds a comfortable space between R&B and singer/songwriter pop. This song cycle of sorts built around finding love generally avoids the clichés inherent in that most overdone of subjects because of the quality material and Stills' sweetly innocent yet emotionally inspired vocals. A small string section brings additional warmth to "When the Pain Dies Down," and the album stays locked in a midtempo groove but never gets repetitious due to sharp production and Stills' innate sense of lyrical and musical nuance. It's a laid-back and low-key yet engaging collection that grows more arresting with additional spins. Even better, Stills proves himself to be a self-contained, multi-instrumental (keys, bass, and guitar) talent who doesn't need, and isn't depending on, his famous last name to attract attention.

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