Finally, a Country album worth writing about. I can not stand the pop country music that is played on the radio today. It is all fluff and no substance. Country music should make you feel something and tell a great story. The only thing I feel with most of country music today is…well…nothing. That is the problem.
That changed with the appearance of Chris Stapleton on to the scene. He is what Country music should be. With his first album, ‘Traveller’, back in 2015, Chris brought the old school brand of Country music back for everyone to enjoy. He was one of the most talked about new artist to come around in a long, long time. The funny thing is he really isn’t new as he has been a songwriter for years, but was finally able to break through as a solo artist.
‘From A Room: Volume 1’ was recorded Nashville at the famed RCA Studio A where some of the greats recorded such as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Their spirit is heard throughout the album and brings back the old school Country music that we have longed to hear for years.
The album is short with only 9 songs that total a brief 32 minutes, however, as you become immersed in the music, time stands still. It is all about the songs, his voice and the masterful playing of the band. The sound is pure old school, outlaw country, blues and a little southern rock.
The opening track, “Broken Halo” covers a lot of the genres all in one song as he tells the story of people’s troubles and their journeys to redemption. His gritty voice is so rich and he has lost nothing from his debut album. If anything, he is even better.
The only song he didn’t have a hand in is the Willie Nelson classic “Last Thing I Need, First Thing This Morning”. An appropriate song to play to honor the outlaw country heritage. The ballad is one of the many highlights on the album. Chris’s wife, Morgane Hayes-Stapleton, contributes some harmonies on the chorus.
Things get kicked up a notch with one of my favorites, “Second One To Know”. This one to me is nothing but Southern Rock and I can see Skynrd playing this song as he sings along (it is not really Skynrd playing). It is a damn good song for the rocker in me.
“Up to No Good Livin'” is a great story of a man who has lived a very troublesome life and now he is paying for it today as his woman doesn’t trust him and he can’t convince her that he has grown up and changed. It is Country music as it should be with great stories. His wife is harmonizing with him throughout this one as well and the two compliment each other nicely.
The next track is an acoustic ballad with just a guitar and his voice. The song, “Either Way” is the heartbreaking story of a marriage ending. It is such a sad song and yet, so absolutely beautiful. Vocally, Chris just kills it on this song. If you aren’t moved by this performance, you are dead inside.
“I Was Wrong” is a blues song and actually contains a guitar solo my Chris Stapleton himself. It is a highlight of the song for sure. I love how the album switches from country to blues to rock so effortlessly and seamlessly. No matter the style, the songs work so well together.
Next up, “Without Your Love” brings another ballad. This song tells the story about a man who can’t seem to forget a lost love. It is has a very modern feel to it, but still keeps it in the country genre if not just barely. The guitar playing on this one is excellent.
Okay, all you stoners get ready for the next song. “Them Stems” is a pure marijuana, stoner track. It is a great blues song with some nice harmonica. The song is so much fun and is about a stoner whose stash has been fully smoked and he needs more fast, but can’t get a hold of his dealer.
The final track, “Death Row”, is another blues track singing about a man’s final days in prison. The slow draw of the ballad seems to mirror the slow process of waiting out time on death row. Very fitting style of song to the story being told. Love it.
- “Broken Halos” – Keeper
- “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning” – Keeper
- “Second One to Know” – Keeper
- “Up to No Good Livin'” – Keeper
- “Either Way” – Keeper
- “I Was Wrong” – Keeper
- “Without Your Love” – Keeper
- “Them Stems” – Keeper
- “Death Row” – Keeper
9 keepers out 9 songs – 100% (5 out 5 stars) Very few albums I fall in love with on first listen, but this was definitely one of them. It is what I love about Country Music…great story telling and great musicianship. It has elements of Blues, Southern Rock and Old School Country. Chris Stapleton sings like the greats of Waylon, Willlie and Merle and the songs are an homage to those greats. All the Luke Bryan’s and Sam Hunt’s take note…this is REAL COUNTRY MUSIC!!!
I am going to add the Musicians that contributed to the album since they were all so amazing in their performances:
- Chris Stapleton – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lead vocals
- Morgane Hayes-Stapleton – background vocals
- Dave Cobb – acoustic guitar
- J.T. Cure – bass guitar & upright bass
- Derek Mixon – drums
- Mickey Raphael – harmonica
- Robby Turner – pedal steel guitar
- Michael Webb – Mellotron, organ, piano