Nashville meets Derbyshire: decently crafted songs to please Americana lovers, but unlikely to draw in a wider audience.
Label: Simply Hymns / Strophic Music
Time: 9 track / 33 mins
As a Brit, I find that this album sounds pure Nashville, but American locals can see the English influences.
Working as a Music and Arts Therapist, Stamp had given up playing or writing professionally until he met and worked with revered British songwriter Boo Hewerdine, who inspired him to re-start his creative side.
Meeting John Hartley in Nashville led to this release, filled with session musicians often heard by Tollbooth readers: Chris Donohue on bass, Red Dirt Boys guitarist Will Kimbrough (recently reviewed in the Mark Heard tribute), Leigh Nash, Dwayne Larring on vocals and engineering, and (for some songwriting credits) Steve Hindalong.
Nash’s duets are helpfully spread through each half of the album, for a bit of variety to Stamp’s gruff vocals, but this mass of session regulars is both a high and low point for me.
On the plus side, Will Kimbrough’s guitar tones are often golden (not least on opener “Stay Calm” – and it says something about Stamp’s songwriting that I can enjoy this list song, whose chorus is the meme I find most irritating of all). His warm, chiming tone lifts any song he plays on.
The downside is that it is hard for this album to stand out among hundreds of others churned out by the city.
Stamp writes songs with character: the bouncy “Trippy Days” has a perky poppiness; “Blowing Me Kisses,” one of the Leigh Nash duets, is a dialogue song about a troubled relationship; and the other (a co-write with Hindalong) has a singable melody.
Although they largely feel disposable, there is a bit of depth on “Words,” when he sings, “Maybe round the world this could be a plan / Every woman, every man use silence when you can.”
On a personal level, I just found that, however well-crafted, the songs failed to connect or excite me at gut level. Others may react differently, especially Americana lovers.