Album Review: Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1

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Chris Stapleton is a phenomenon that doesn’t come around regularly. Completely shaking up the mainstream country establishment almost overnight with one performance at the CMA Awards 2015, the sales of his debut record “Traveller” went from zero to double platinum over the course of the next 6 months, supported by his landslide wins at the CMAs. This all goes to show just how good, authentic, soul music can sell big if it is allowed into the mainstream, and allowed into the mainstream it was, despite the continuing issue of radio DJs refusing to give it many spins.

“From A Room: Volume 1” is the first of two LPs to be released this year, recorded with Dave Cobb in his famous studio A, and despite the curiously quiet lead-up period to the release where a single hasn’t been officially released, there is definitely a buzz for the return of the bearded wonder. Whilst the album is phenomenally good, and Stapleton has never sounded better vocally, I don’t expect this record to garner as much following as “Traveller” since the surprise factor won’t get the ball rolling like it did with his debut release, and it doesn’t look as though the record label is fully committed to backing it. That would be a shame, because country music needs this record to explode, bringing back the soul to a country music community saturated in pop stars and country barbies.

“Broken Halos” was the first song released to streaming sites, and was launched at CRS earlier this year. There aren’t too many surprises here, with Morgane supplying the gorgeous harmonies to Chris’ huge vocal performance, and a simple backing of acoustic guitar and drum kit. Like we have come to expect from Stapleton, the crescendo in his vocal is the best in all of music, and the soul and power he brings to the party is incredible. The song itself is good, but also a lead-in to the record as a whole, not pushing any boundaries.

“Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning”, a Willie Nelson cover, has also been pre-released from the record, and is reported to be one of the songs that Chris wishes he had written. I can see why, with a lovely melancholy swing and gorgeous harmonica and guitar backing. Vocally this is more sedate than “Broken Halos”, not showing the immense power of the voice, but exploring more of the beautiful texture that Chris can bring to the lyrics.

“Up To No Good Livin’” is another song expanding Chris’ already strong repertoire. Adding a dose of steel guitar to the music of the record, this is arguably the most country song on the record, with a gentle swinging rhythm and great harmonies as always by Morgane. Likewise, the subject of the song is redemption of old philandering ways; “I used to drink like a fish, run like a dog, did a whole lot of shit not permitted by law”. The song is definitely a highlight of the record, and provides a country backbone to the album.

My highlight of “From A Room: Volume 1” is “I Was Wrong”, a song that can only be described as a vocal masterpiece. Chris Stapleton has one of the finest voices in the whole of music history, and this song exactly shows off everything he can do. With a bluesy rhythm and groove guitar instrumentation, Chris’ vocals soar majestically over the top in tumbling melodies before rising to a raging crescendo towards the end. If this is performed live on a big stage, it will stop the show, because there isn’t anything close to this good from the last few years.

“From A Room: Volume 1” is undoubtedly a masterpiece. Whether it will surpass “Traveller” in the public eye I don’t know, but I think it is a more complete album, showcasing more what Chris can do musically and sonically. After hearing this record, I am even more excited to hear what comes in Volume 2 later this year, since I’m expecting a bit more musical experimentation, something that we should all be excited about.

  Track List
  1. Broken Halos
  2. Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning
  3. Second One To Know
  4. Up To No Good Livin’
  5. Either Way
  6. I Was Wrong
  7. Without Your Love
  8. Them Stems
  9. Death Row


More Information

Birthday

15 April 1978


Birthplace

Lexington Kentucky



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About the Author

Nick

I listen to music of all genres, including most of the sub-genres within country. I tend to focus on alt-country/Americana, but have a few loves within more mainstream circles. I am almost certainly the world's biggest Lee Ann Womack and Chris Stapleton fan, but my love of Aubrey Sellers, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson is also the stuff of legend.