What is Country music? It’s a question often asked by fans, by critics, industry people and even by artists. Throughout the history of the genre there have been artists who have been criticised for being either too country or not country enough, but that’s what happens when a genre is made up of sub genres and lots of musical styles but at the core it is about story telling. Which brings me to the next two words. Chris Stapleton.
Remember that name…”
Fast forward to May 2015 Stapleton released his debut solo project “Traveller”, after that Stapleton went on to win Album of the Year at both the CMA and ACM awards, Best Country Album at the Grammy’s as well as numerous other awards including Male Vocalist of the Year. The rest, you could say is history.
“From A Room: Volume 1”, the highly anticipated follow up to “Traveller” was released in May, as the first of a two-part project that was recorded at Nashville’s RCA Studio A. Once again produced by Dave Cobb and Stapleton, this nine-track album is just enough to wet the taste buds but will certainly leave you wanting Volume 2 sharpish.
As soon as “Broken Halos” begins that gravelly tone Stapleton has become known for shines, with harmonies from his equally talented wife Morgane. It’s a good introduction to the album and was recorded the day a childhood friend of Stapleton’s passed away from pancreatic cancer, making it that much more emotional to listen to.
I defy anyone to listen to “Second One to Know” and not get the urge to tap your foot, it’s one of the rare up tempo tracks and feels like it was made to be performed for live audiences, particularly with the brilliant guitar solo that concludes the song.
“Up to No Good Livin” tell the story of a guy who hasn’t had the greatest track record previously, but has changed his ways and is frustrated that despite his best efforts his other half doesn’t trust him because of past actions and behaviours. Accompanied by Morgane on vocals, it’s classic Stapleton and I’d just like to put out in the universe that we need a Morgane Stapleton album pronto!
Back in 2008, the incomparable Lee Ann Womack released her “Call Me Crazy” album and featured a track called “Either Way”, which was written by and had harmonies by non-other than Chris Stapleton. It was my favourite track from that album so when I heard Stapleton was releasing his own version, I’ll admit I was very excited and not at all disappointed when I heard it. It paints the picture of a couple who have given up completely on their relationship and rather than making the break, they go through the motions of being together and faking this picture-perfect existence because it’s what the couple are used to. Stapleton’s version of “Either Way” will rip your heart out, and I would like to think come next award season it will be nominated.
“Death Row” starts with a funky instrumental introduction that I can’t help but think of a scene in “The Pink Panther” until the vocals kick in. The song itself is very bluesy and mellow, and while not one of my favourites overall, I feel it is strategically placed as the last track of the album to leave listeners wanting more.
Chris Stapleton makes the kind of music that will make you feel something, whether it’s happiness or sadness you will feel and that to me is the epitome of Country music. For me it reminds me of the music my Grandad would have played in his car on a Sunday throughout my childhood but what is great about Stapleton’s sound is while it could’ve been popular in any decade, it still feels modern and relevant.
If you were at C2C in 2016 you will have experienced the musical genius that is Chris Stapleton, I have never and probably never will hear a reaction like that of a packed O2 arena cheer for an artist and boo when they realised his set was over and they wanted more. So, dear C2C I beg of you please have Stapleton back as a headliner. We need more!
- Broken Halos
- Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning
- Second One To Know
- Up To No Good Livin’
- Either Way
- I Was Wrong
- Without Your Love
- Them Stems
- Death Row
If you haven’t already, make sure you buy “From A Room: Volume 1” here.