If you’ve been living under a rock, let me give you a quick recap of how we got to this point. Chris Stapleton is a native Kentuckian. His career path looks more like a hopscotch game than a direct path to stardom. He’s been in a bluegrass band called The SteelDrivers, he’s written six number one songs, been in a Southern Rock/Outlaw Country band called The Jompson Brothers, and won two Grammy’s as a solo artist after an album was recorded and scrapped. He recently unleashed his 2nd solo album, just in time for The Kentucky Derby, called ‘From A Room: Volume One’.
Now that we’re somewhat caught up, onto the album! The lead track is titled “Broken Halos“. It’s a track that doesn’t stray too far from the familiar sounds oh his debut album, ‘Traveller‘, with the lyrical exception that it’s a bit more spiritual in it’s essence. It is an infectious melody, which is enhanced greatly by Morgane Stapleton, and it delivers a tremendous story, which should come as no surprise to any Chris Stapleton fan.
While Stapleton has written many hits, he also isn’t afraid to sing someone else’s songs, especially if it fits his style as well as David Allen Coe’s “Tennessee Whiskey” did on ‘Traveler‘. This time around, he tackles the Willie Nelson classic, “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning.” While the results aren’t quite as powerful as “Tennessee Whiskey“, it’s a fantatsic version that allows you to soak in the smoothness of his bar-room tested gravely baritone voice.
“Second One To Know“, sounds as if it could easily be a holdover from The Jompson Brothers and that’s right up my alley because I loved that band. The old familiar tones rip their way through this foot-stomping Southern romp and deliver one of my highlights on the album.
“Up To No Good Livin‘” is a song that I want to focus on for a bit. It’s not that it’s this massive society changing song that is a must listen, but what it is, is a hat-tip to all those who built Country Music. Usually when an artist becomes a superstar, the suits at a label make poor decisions and force an artist to be as politically correct as possible. Often times, cleansing an artist of the very grit that got them where they are to begin with. Chris Stapleton ain’t having that. Just take a look at the lyrics and I think you’ll understand what I mean.
I used to drink like a fish and run like a dog
Done a whole lotta shit not permitted by law
People called me the Picasso of painting the town
I’ve finally grown up
I’ve finally changed
And that someone I was
Is somebody I ain’t
For me personally though, I really enjoy hearing the incredible range that Chris Stapleton owns. So when a song like “Either Way“, or “Barely Alive” from The Jompson Brothers comes along, I am immediately held captive, on repeat, for at least a week. Okay, that may be a bit of a stretch, but just barely. Haha This track is the centerpiece of the album and by far my personal favorite.
Fun sidenote to this track, Lee Ann Womack originally released this song and if you take a listen to her version, you’ll recognize a very familiar baritone voice singing harmonies in the chorus.
The bluesy “I Was Wrong” and the soulful “Without Your Love“, lead us into a song that will likely be controversial to a few, but will no doubt be a long-time staple in his live set. Country folks like to drink and party, and quite a few of them like to partake in a little of the Ole Mary Jane, which is exactly why the rocker titled, “Them Stems“, is here to stay.
‘From A Room: Volume One‘ ends with a powerful tale about, “Death Row“. It’s slow moving and the melody rides the musical groove like a calming sea in a world of hurt. It’s definitely a different delivery than you’re accustomed to, but it’s not too much of a departure that you won’t enjoy. My personal opinion is it’s one of my favorite tracks Chris Stapleton has performed thus far.
Is “From A Room: Volume One‘ as impactful as ‘Traveller‘, that’s the question everyone seems to be asking, and the answer is no. Does that mean the album is a letdown? I say 100% absolutely not. It’s a tremendous album that has one helluva shadow to stand in. Once you get your brain out of comparison mode, you’re going to enjoy this album tremendously.
Pick it up. Buy several copies. Go see a show and enjoy the fact that one of the biggest Country stars on the planet is from right here in our beloved Bluegrass.
Keep up with Chris Stapleton here.