|STUART A. STAPLES
· Vocalist's second solo album sounds like Curtains for Tindersticks.
Stuart A. Staples still seems uncertain whether to resign himself to being England's best lounge-rock crooner of recent decades, or to revive the innovative spirit of the early Tindersticks recordings, now almost 15 years past.
Though his 2005 solo debut, the bucolic Lucky Dog Recordings, was less ambitious than the groundbreaking first two TS albums, it did at least try some new ideas. Leaving Songs, however, is planted firmly in the later Tindersticks tradition of alt-rock/soul balladeering begun by 1997's Curtains, from which it is virtually indistinguishable in sound, including the duet then sung with Isabella Rossellini, now with Maria McKee and (more successfully) Lhasa.
Since that was the group's most accessible album, and for many remains their favourite recording, this may not be a bad thing the songwriting is indeed more consistently strong than at any time in the last decade.
But I do miss their former, collective ability to surprise a collection of children's songs, recorded by the group last year, seems destined never to see the light and, after Leaving Songs, it is hard to think of any good reason for Staples to return to the fold.