Review: Jeff Stamp, “Love: Stampy”

Love: Stampy

Falling in love is perhaps the brightest moment in any life. The cycle that pulls two hearts together and draws them deep inside of each other’s awareness is an ever-present hope that we all have in common.  Writers throughout the centuries have tried to encapsulate that moment of recognition – the moment the heart takes flight and sees beyond the limitations of individual perception, or so it seems, at the time, to the love struck and hopelessly bedazzled.

As sure as the yearning for true love may be, we each know the disappointment and anguish when love’s flower fades and the blooms fall.  How we handle this and take sustenance from the bitter loss of love is perhaps an even stronger testament of character and resolve.

Jeff Stamp’s 2019 album “Love: Stampy” is a remarkable blues poem cycle to love won and lost. The music that fuels his very personal tale is a robust mixture of power funk and dance grooves, while the lyrics shine a light on the hope that every lover feels and the final denouement that befalls the story’s chronicler. For this album is ultimately a love letter, not only to the listener but the two who shared the momentary magic that gave birth to these songs.

Released on May 25, 2019, “Love: Stampy” is a further continuation of the evolving music of guitarist, songwriter, Jeff Stamp. It is his fifth album to date, but in fact he may have more albums out than that! As an indie songwriter, performer and writer, his works are not always accurately catalogued. Known for his powerhouse performances, Stamp has released two well-known albums under his Ol’ Stampy’s Saloon series. He is renowned for his high energy, edgy, party songs that lift you up and leave a big smile on your face. He has garnered a couple of well know songs, most notably “Hers was Gold” from Ol’ Stampy’s Saloon Volume 1.  After some time trying to make his path in the Toronto’s music scene, Jeff Stamp returned to hometown of Huntsville Ontario to develop his sound.  A prolific songwriter, Jeff found that he was able to produce more music using characters such as Ol’ Stampy who is a projection of his older self telling his younger self how to be free and stay creative.

“Love: Stampy” is a work of more direct intimacy but not as direct as some of his most personal heart felt songs, such as “Little You” which is sung with Ruth Cassie which he dedicated to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to be used in their fundraising campaigns. This is an aspect of Jeff’s music that remains highly inspirational, in that he uses a fair amount of his song writing capacity to help noteworthy causes. In fact “Love: Stampy” was released as part of fundraising event for Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

The album starts with an alarm bell ringing- perhaps a wake up call, and a guitar chord progression that clues you into what’s coming. “When Sexy Comes A Callin”, the opening track, the singer, in a deep resonate voice sings, “It all starts in darkness, by yourself, you’re all alone… when sexy comes a callin’, gonna make you feel alive”.  The tune is filled exuberance and foreboding with a re-imaged guitar shuffle mixed with the longing wail from a background vocalist. Jeff lets you know that some good is about come forth but sadly concludes, “I wish I had a potion, or a magic little pill… so my spirit doesn’t burn, that helps to make me smarter, ‘cause I never seem to learn”. In darkness the journey begins but the songwriter is looking back over his shoulder at the light about to reveal itself to him.

It’s been some time since a concept album hit the airwaves. These days songs seem to be mostly singles meant for streaming.  A concept album reveals the story one chapter at a time, like a good novel. Jeff Stamp’s album intends to tell the tale in a similar manner. He uses a blues idiom to highlight the moments of an approaching love affair using all the power, versatility and grace that the blues can aspire to.

From the pulse of that opening tune, the album turns funky and danceable in “Mercy Me”, the band is still restrained but the tension is building. Song three,“Soooo Gooood” introduces the expanding arrangement with more funky beats and lyrics but in “Lovely Lady” the guitar starts to stretch out. The song finds our narrator falling far and fast, because his beloved “shines”.

By song five, the raucous “I Cried,” the album takes off with its most danceable and rocking song. The band really lets loose here and the interplay between Stamp’s own unique guitar work and lead guitarist Juan Barbosa is exciting and full of the fun two old friends are having. The songs follow some tried and true blues formats to outline the love story further, as the inevitable takes place and the united hearts fall broken and blistered in their own separation.

Alien In My Bed” finds the songwriter in some deep peril. “Strange are the ways humans behave, with a broken heart like mine”. This may be the most unique song on the album, with virtuosic playing from the entire band. A complex fervent bass solo by Brandon Mundy, brings the protagonist’s dilemma in sharp relief and once again the singer finds himself in darkness. This song alone is worth investigating what this album has on offer. By the end, alone but defiant, the pounding drums and relentless guitars bring in the last song, as predicted from the opening song, “Alone At Last”; “little wiggle in my walk, little slang in my talk, and I’m vibin’ cool, little jiggle in my socks, to the tick of my tock, I ain’t following rules, smooth like jelly jam, I aint nobody’s fool, I’m stitched up, fixed up and I’m mixing a brand new brew .. Hey…  Alone At Last”.

In this final song, the writer is scarred but not maimed, saddened but not disheartened, alone but not entirely so for something new has come into being. Jeff Stamp offers a vision of uplifting vibrant sound with carefully crafted lyrics to let us know that every story has a happy ending, even when you sing the blues.

More about Stampy at:

https://www.facebook.com/stampmystichicks/

Douglas McLean fell in love with music at a very early age and has worked as a musician and songwriter since his early teens. He has a deep love for the written word and has spent his life in pursuit of language as a means to convey what Van Morrison once called “the inarticulate speech of the heart”. He lives deep in the Almaguin Highlands with his wife and their dog. Douglas is active in local radio, recording, producing and writing, in and around Huntsville, Ontario.

His website is:
http://www.douglasmcleanmusic.com

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