By Ian Bremner
Though already an industry-lifer, Traveller was a welcome-to-the-world for Chris Stapleton to most folks. The man behind the pen for many of country music’s big hits, Stapleton has written for Music Row’s heavy hitters from Sheryl Crow, George Strait, Luke Bryan and Tim McGraw. His solo debut, Traveller was a coming out party that was released with some fanfare, but only to those who knew who Stapleton was. The success of Traveller grew and grew with each week spreading from country music listeners to soul-heads, folkies and rockers, all for great reason. It was a 14-track classic. Each and every song is “single-worthy” and all go down as smooth as the whiskey Stapleton routinely sings about.
From A Room is Volume 1 of what will be Chris Stapleton’s 2017 releases. Stapleton and super-producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill, Isbell, All Them Witches) got back into the lab, the A Room at RCA studios now run by Cobb to track more tunes that Stapleton has been sitting on for some years. Stapleton, his wife Morgane, and Cobb took the same process for song selection as Traveller, which is to simply pick a batch of songs from the from Stapleton’s unreleased songbook vault. When you’re a songwriter with no previous albums, you have a large pot to choose from. Getting a late start as solo artist, it’s almost as if he is back filling his back catalog… certainly no one is complaining about that
The overall vibe of From A Room is a bit more subtle than Traveller, but that’s how Stapleton seems to prefer it. That’s what’s made him such a star. The focus always remains on the music, on the songs themselves. Stapleton goes back to basics. From A Room clocks in at 32 minutes, 9 tracks with little else than a 3 piece band and Morgane on harmonies. There’s a little steel guitar here and there and a harmonica on the Willie Nelson cover, Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning. There are less whiskey references, but perhaps a little more bluesy soul. Tracks like Second One To Know and Death Row could have been performed by ZZ Top in their hey dey.
As Chris Stapleton’s star rises higher and higher, the music will always be the priority. With a track record and voice like his, listeners will have no issues following the music.
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From A Room in full via spotify