Chris Stills: When the Pain Dies Down: Live in Paris

[7 September 2006]

By Dan Raper

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.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/chris-stills-when-the-pain-dies-down-live-in-paris/