Chris Staples, ‘American Soft’ (Barsuk)
Right about the time Ben Gibbard’s Death Cab for Cutie was getting its start on Barsuk Records in 1997, another raspy-voiced singer, Chris Staples, was recording his first album with Twothirtyeight. Now Staples is getting his own chance to work with Barsuk, which releases “American Soft” Tuesday, Aug. 12.
Vocally, the comparison between Gibbard and Staples is apt, but Staples’ sixth solo album doesn’t have much in common with a Death Cab record. There is none of Chris Walla’s slick production on “American Soft” and that’s not a bad thing.
Instead, we get the muted undertones of “Black Tornado,” with its jazzy guitar and cheery hand claps, and the nostalgic melancholy of “Needle Park,” where Staples unloads this little gem: “Would you like to come home with me? Well it’s just a short walk past Needle Park and the burned out factories.”
Musically, the album’s simple beauty doesn’t leave much of an impression and recalls the scene in “High Fidelity” where record shop owner Rob Gordon just wants to put on something he can ignore. Maybe that is Staples’ intention, because it puts all the focus on the halting, haunting memories that emerge from “American Soft.”
You can hear “Dark Side of the Moon” from the new album on the Barsuk website.
Other new releases
The Gaslight Anthem, “Get Hurt” (Island)
Sinead O’Connor, “I’m Not Bossy I’m the Boss” (Nettwerk)
Tom Harrell, “Trip” (HighNote)