John Stammers delivers a relaxed sophomore effort with 'Waiting Around'
Reader Rating2 Votes
John Stammers is an artist who appears to exist primarily in his own world. Armed with an uncanny knack for articulating wistful longing and trading in quiet reveries and pensive observation of the world going by, sophomore effort ‘Waiting Around’ sees him seek peace in solitude and beauty in the quietness found there. It’s an album that’s content to drift along at its own pace; unharried and perennially relaxed, it’s an easygoing record that hints at moments of melancholia but never gives into them enough to sabotage the often breezy mood of the album.
Armed with a typical singer-songwriter’s arsenal of dancing guitars and sparse, sensitive overdubs, Stammers wears his influences just as much on his sleeve as practically any other alumnus of the style but no more so. There’s more than a dash of Belle And Sebastian in the quaint sway of ‘Steppin’, with solemn brass lending the song a drowsy charm. The glossy melodies and homely, open-wood-burner ambience of ‘Risky Flowers’ gives the nod to erstwhile folk-rock royalty Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the track’s chorus in particular swelling with tight-knit harmonies.
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To those familiar with the stable of classic folk and singer-songwriter records of the past five decades, ‘Waiting Around’ doesn’t offer any great surprises. Stammers is able to articulate his influences with the style of someone who hasn’t listened to so much as lived in his record collection. Indeed, though Stammers certainly doesn’t do anything radically new here, there’s a sincerity and obvious reverence for the style that lends ‘Waiting Around’ an authenticity which eludes mere copyists. There’s a measured, methodical legitimacy to the way ‘Waiting Around’ has been crafted; recorded solely on analogue equipment, there’s a precision and attention to detail to the album, perhaps somewhat belied by the almost off-hand intimacy of the songs themselves.
One surprise left-turn does come in the form of the album’s eerie, world-worn closer ‘Your Time’. ‘Waiting Around’s sparsest moment – devoid of overdubs, sees Stammers accompany himself with the most intricate guitar work of the album – it jettisons the sonic clarity of much of the album for a lo-fi crunch of buzzing strings and tape hiss. In the same way that such imperfections only enhanced albums by the likes of Elliott Smith and, more recently, Jessica Pratt, the song’s cracked gossamer has an enchanting power all of its own. With the preceding songs boasting a comparative polish, it’s a perhaps unexpected way to end the album but it’s a wise choice. Not only does the barebones arrangement allow ‘Your Time’ to standout from the crowd, but its rough grit lends it a character all of its own.
‘Waiting Around’ is an album for lazy Sunday afternoons – ever unhurried, it’s an album that meanders forward at nonchalant pace whilst still maintaining enough resonance that never feels shallow. John Stammers has crafted a warm, welcoming mood piece with ‘Waiting Around’.
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