The Oregonian reviews Soft Commands.
For all his considerable gifts, Stringfellow’s big break has proved elusive.
“Soft Commands” sounds like the work of a man attempting to correct for this fundamental error in judgment. It’s Stringfellow’s first disc with properly large-sounding Singer-Songwriter Production, encompassing a dozen new songs written in locations around the world — New York, Stockholm, Paris (Stringfellow’s occasional home, after marrying French girlfriend Dominique Sassi) — and reflecting the restlessness that characterizes his tireless work ethic.
For all its sonic clarity, the boldness of the production doesn’t serve the songs well. For every “Cyclone Graves” (Stringfellow’s best song since the Posies’ 1993 “Frosting on the Beater” album), there’s also “Don’t Die,” a maudlin meditation on suicide set to a Squeeze-style backing track that fails to capture any of Stringfellow’s typical charm.