Tindersticks :: The Waiting Room

Hey, we could put on our shoes / we can celebrate when our hearts break and go laughing to that noose…”

That line, from “Slippin’ Shoes” off Tindersticks’ 2012 LP Something Rain, reads as something of a thesis statement for the Nottingham band, now 25 years into its career and sounding fresh, vibrant and brilliant as ever. That record and their latest, the recently released The Waiting Room, find the band at a creative peak — flourishing the melancholy and maudlin with beautiful visions of light and streaks of orchestral jazz. Stuart Staples is a master vocalist, employing his voice to convey the dramatic, the sentimental and the sullen. His poetry is draped in a swirl of organs, strings, horns, glockenspiels - a noir landscape for his observations on mystery, nostalgia, regret, beauty and hope.

The Waiting Room begins with the plaintive instrumental “Follow Me,” led by a chromatic harmonica (shades of John Barry’s Midnight Cowboy theme are immediately conjured), with tribal drumming and shimmering strings quietly playing underneath. We first hear Staples on “Last Chance Man.” His gloomy, entrancing vocals dimming the lights alongside a mournful organ. “I found love / before I could identify it / I found grace / before I could be mystified it,” he sings, a late realization at a love that enlightened him. As the percussion and saxophones start to ascend, Staples approaches a second chance. The horns sounds like a new lease on life as Staples promises to do it right this time, his cadence picking up speed. He’s feeling it all this time; this is where he thrives: the last chance.

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