By Moira E. McLaughlin
Friday, October 12, 2012
Chris Staples has been working at his craft for almost two decades now -- playing in a couple of bands, recording with a few indie labels, releasing solo records. His newest solo endeavor, “American Soft,” is a quiet and moving indie folk record from a musician who has spent years honing his talents and finding his voice.
Diverging from albums past, Staples allows his raw, exposed vocals to take over. His quiet voice is heart-wrenching throughout, conveying a sense of melancholy with every syllable. But his songs are not hopeless; they just express a sense of the realities of everyday life and love. On the album opener, “Walking With a Stranger,” Staples sings, “If you just stay true some good things are comin’ back to you,” but it sounds as if he is trying to convince himself as much as any listener.
“Dark Side of the Moon” showcases Staples’s talents as a singer-songwriter. The simple song doesn’t need much beyond his steadily strumming guitar, his thought-provoking lyrics and, of course, his voice. None of the songs are overloaded with instruments or musical ideas. “Black Tornado” is the most playful, featuring hand claps and a synthesizer, but Staples’s vocals and storytelling still carry it.
“American Soft” is Staples’s best effort yet, quietly denoting an artist with real depth and talent.