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Chris Stills

When the Pain Dies Down: Live in Paris

(V2; US: 11 Jul 2006; UK: 17 Jul 2006)

Oh, for some MOR singer-songwriter fare. Drained of the stadium-ready soar of a Coldplay or a Keane, Chris Stills’s warbling is so inoffensive you can hardly tell it’s alive. This live disc is no great discredit to the performer’s talent –- his voice sounds, mostly, smooth as on the studio recordings; but the songs fail to excite, a strange alternation between easy listening with faintly Paul Simon harmonies (as on “Landslide”), and faux-chansons, Stills’s nasal French accent grating (“Demon”). “Story of a Dying Man” is characteristic: the melody’s not quite soaring enough to completely take hold, and the conceit a shallow exposition of love. But it only really gets laughable on the last song, “Fanny”, the only studio recording on the disc: it’s “The Weight” by the Band, lyrics in French. He’s become the nightmare of your favourite singer-songwriter, what you always half-feared he’d degenerate into—no longer any insight, only sentimentality.

Rating:

Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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