Chris Stamey & the Fellow Travelers
A Brand-New Shade of Blue
Long ago, Chris Stamey and friends formed a band called The db’s and helped jump start the power pop revival of the 1980s. He’s been making music ever since, mainly exploring the more esoteric veins of indie rock as art music. Stamey’s latest project, A Brand-New Shade of Blue, is something quite different. For this project, Stamey puts on his Chet Baker shades and takes a dive into romantic jazz balladry.
The Fellow Travelers get the feel just right. A Brand-New Shade of Blue could so easily slide off the rails into cheesy, cocktail lounge jazz. The music definitely belongs in a dimly lite bar rooms. Brett Harris handles most of the vocals with a deadpan charm. There is weariness in his voice that accentuates the underlying sadness of “In a Minor Key.” Saxophonist, Will Campbell and trumpeter Ben Robinson provide the soft, seductive horn lines evoking young John Coltrane and the previously mentioned Chet Baker. Ramune Martin’s vocal turn on “I Don’t Think of You” calls to mind the masterful eccentric, Robert Wyatt.
I’m actually happy to see Chris Stamey going against expectation based on his history. With the financial rewards for musicians being eaten away by streaming services, why not do whatever makes you happy?