Staples wrote portions of American Soft while squatting in his abandoned childhood home, a Pensacola, FL bungalow empty save for an old piano. “I slept on a Coleman cot for two months. The yard was overgrown up to my waist,” Staples remembers. “The neighbor lady across the street used to babysit me. I ran into her one day and she didn’t even recognize me. I hadn’t seen her in 15 years.”American Soft’s musical ideas are at once diverse and cohesive, the lyrics both direct and lushly impressionistic. Staples’ songs are, in the tradition of the best songwriters, fantastically economical. No moment is wasted, no idea indulged beyond necessity. Instrumental breaks occur but don’t linger, serving their purpose and slipping quickly back into verses. American Soft features only a single traditional bridge, on the straight-ahead almost-rocker “Needle Park,” which finishes with a short dual-guitar explosion, an explosion which ends suddenly, as suddenly as it began, a fleeting moment leaves us wanting more, always more, in the best way. Chris Staples has devoted the whole of his life to fostering that illusive magic, to passing it on, to giving and giving ‘til it’s all gone. Fortunately for us, he’s only just begun.