An in-demand producer (Whiskeytown, Alejandro Escovedo), North Carolinian Chris Stamey infrequently releases solo work. So when his finely-crafted songs make their way to an album, it’s always a sonic surprise, rich with echoes of his myriad projects: sometimes jangly fare like his seminal power pop outfit the dB’s, other times unabashed rock like Yo La Tengo, with whom he cut 2005′s A Question of Temperature. The haunting Lovesick Blues, Stamey’s first solo offering in eight years, is darkly intimate chamber pop reminiscent of Big Star’s Third. And for good reason: Stamey, a longtime friend and musical collaborator of Alex Chilton in the ’70s, has spent the past two years as musical director of concert performances of Third, for which he orchestrated woodwinds, horns and strings around emotion-thick rock.
The contemplative atmosphere of Lovesick Blues draws from the same palette and, lyrically, it’s Stamey’s most personal album to date: “Skin,” “Wintertime” and “I Wrote This Song For You” are intimate assurances across a small, shadowy room. A seven-minute ode to late guitarist Sam Moss, the title track is an ambitious orchestral dreamscape. Stamey’s more upbeat side is also here, with the exuberant “You n Me n XTC” and “If Memory Serves.” Fans of Nick Drake, the dBs, and Third will find that they don’t want to shake these Lovesick Blues.