Stuart A. Staples Lucky Dog Recordings 03-04

An unexpected solo album from an artist like Stuart Staples is a sign that either his band Tindersticks are on the verge of collapse or a sign that the musician has time to kill in between albums. Thankfully for Tindersticks fans, front-man Stuart Staples is in the second category, although, with only one listen of his solo debut you'll wonder how long he'll need his brooding band to keep it together. In their 14-year existence, the Nottingham-based sextet have always written and recorded as a full unit, but Lucky Dog proves the priceless worth of Staples as a songwriter. Though fellow Sticks Dave Boulter and Neil Fraser give an inspiring helping hand, along with a merry cast of musician friends (including the staggering brass work of Sticks associate Terry Edwards), Staples follows his band’s last album, the magnificent Waiting for the Moon, in victorious fashion. Minus the strings that defined much of Tindersticks’ catalogue, Lucky Dog, is an assortment of home recordings and a barefaced reaction to the oft-sumptuous Tindersticks arrangements. Staples has stripped down to a simple format of only his voice with a revolving door of understated instruments like an acoustic guitar, piano, harmonium and Edwards’s arsenal. The results are a sublime batch of low-key serenades that have you thanking your lucky stars his wife snapped at him to do it. (Beggars Banquet)