Christopher Paul Stelling
Sounds Like: The Tallest Man on Earth enhanced by the liquid courage of a few tallboys downed during band practice
For Fans of: Ben Howard, David Gray, Mason Jennings
Why You Should Pay Attention: Stelling self-released two albums of his inquisitive, incisive folk and toured through America and Europe. But after cutting his third album, he realized he lacked the wherewithal to repeat the process of raising money by himself. He shipped the music to Anti-, home of singer-songwriters like Tom Waits and William Elliott Whitmore, and connected quickly. On June 16, they'll issue his Labor Against Waste. For these songs, Stelling stretched his approach to include elegiac strings and solemn harmonies on "Too Far North," clanging percussion and driving banjo on "Death of Influence" and a shuffling, simpatico band for "Revenge." The record delights at the threshold of polished folk-pop and rustic old folk; and he seems bound to make converts on both sides of that divide.
He Says: With such a restless traveler, inspiration can strike in unexpected places. "Sometimes I write at home. Sometimes I write on the road. Sometimes I don't write. Sometimes it all comes out at once, and sometimes it takes six months to write a song…. There was a period where I wrote five songs in a day, three of which ended up on Labor Against Waste. I remember writing in a hotel in Belgium and scribbling on a piece of paper on the dashboard of my car in Texas. I wouldn't write on the dashboard, because I'm not into that kind of commitment."
Hear for Yourself: Stelling's considerable acoustic chops are on display in the official performance clip of Labor Against Waste's opening track, "Warm Enemy." Grayson Haver Currin