Tyler Stafford’s On a String is one of the best collections of songs to come from a Reno songwriter this year.
Tyler Stafford’s On a String is one of the better efforts from Reno’s singer-songwriter scene. Singer-songwriters like this, sincere types—and Stafford is often cringingly sincere—tend to be motivated by hurt feelings, but Stafford is better than most at translating his emotions into good songs.
The record is centered on his whispered tenor and some lovely minor-key finger-picking guitar, occasionally augmented by some tasteful string arrangements and backing vocals. And the lyrics are consistently better than embarrassing.
Stafford hints at a mix of influences both square—James Taylor and Dave Matthews—and hip—Iron & Wine and Neutral Milk Hotel. Sometimes the vocal melodies, harmonies and intonation veer dangerously close to the pinched-testicle sounds of beach bums like Jack Johnson. Regardless, this is one of the best collections of songs to come from a Reno songwriter this year.