What can be said about the work of Chris Stamey that hasn’t already been said? The brilliance and precision of his writing and song-crafting style is something to be marveled at, some four decades since he first appeared with the now-legendary Sneakers. On Euphoria, his newest meisterwerk, he picks up where he left off with 2013’s magnum opus, Lovesick Blues, but with a vengeful return to his pop-rock roots. There’s the usual array of guest performers/collaborators, such as Skylar Gudasz on flute, Mitch Easter on guitars, fellow dB’s drummer Will Rigby, but also appearances by Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub and drummer/brilliant comic Jon Wurster. And this album is simply a joy ride in an open musical car.
Starting off with the raucous yet tuneful “Universe-sized Arms”, you know Stamey’s here to deliver the goods in the way his fans hope – melody, throttle and power. “Where Does The Time Go?” is standard Stamey fare and instantly embraceable with his trademark chiming guitars and breaks; “Euphoria”, the title track, starts with a heavy muted guitar and processed vocals in neo-psychedelic fashion but then breaks into a chorale-styled vocal – it takes an endless wealth of skill and talent to pull off something in this fashion and Stamey has it in volumes. “Dear Valentine” is another radio-friendly vintage Stamey piece (the chills one gets listening to his guitar!); “When The Fever Breaks” is a balls-out rocker and “You Are Beautiful” is a gorgeous piece, initially built around a piano, but turns into an orchestrated pop masterpiece.
If you want to hear what precision and care is all about in songwriting and subsequently, the delivery, look no further than Chris Stamey. And if you’ve never indulged before, Euphoria is as good a place to start (and work your way backwards).
Euphoria is available now