Stuart A. Staples Leaving Songs

With the Tindersticks currently on hiatus, band leader Stuart A. Staples seems content to walk London’s streets alone, documenting the crumbling relations and hardships of love that have predominated all of his past stories on his second solo effort, the aptly titled Leaving Songs. Like his first album, and unlike the Tindersticks’ grandiose symphonic albums, Leaving Songs feels more like snippets of observations that Staples has collected over time, not leaving an immediate impression, but one that reaches out and tugs at heartstrings in life’s delicate moments. Like a great romantic akin to famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Staples draws on volatile nature, such as the wind and sea, and his lyrics have always read like a great traveller wandering the world restlessly, not being able to decide if he is walking into or out of his lover’s lives. Musically, his band continue to provide a nocturnal atmosphere shaped by dark organ, gently picked acoustic guitars and lazy Spanish horns. He’s also made a smart choice in female guests with Maria McKee and Montreal’s Lhasa, who provide an important feminine balance to Stuart’s more masculine views. Leaving Songs yet again proves that with each new album Staples is quietly cementing himself as one of this generation’s strongest songwriters — something his fans have taken comfort with for years. (Beggars Banquet)