From A Room: Volume 1

Chris Stapleton

Mercury, 2017

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


There has been a substantial surge over the past few years of "outlaw" artists rising to prominence in the country music scene. Jason Isbell, Maren Morris, and Sturgill Simpson have see their fair share of success, but at this point, it would appear that Chris Stapleton is holding the championship belt in Nashville.

A longtime successful songwriter, Stapleton burst onto the scene on the back of his debut album Traveler, a modest selling record that won the critical praise of the country music elite (performing a duet live with Justin Timberlake doesn't hurt either). Now, instead of being the man behind the music, Stapleton is out in front. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 From A Room: Volume 1 doesn't diverge from Traveler all that much. If anything, there's a refinement of its predecessor's sound that demonstrates Stapleton's immense talents. Instead of expanding the aural landscape and adorning with various bells and whistles, Stapleton keeps things simple and retro-minded. And if we are being perfectly honest here, his voice could overcome a hell of a lot of deficiencies regardless.

The pure rawness that permeates Stapleton's vocal performances across the record are breathtaking. In his interview with Apple Music's Matt Wilkinson prior to the album's release, Wilkinson identifies some of the singing on the record as his favorite of the last few years. Far be it from me to claim knowledge of the vast landscape of current popular music, but Chris Stapleton can out-sing any sum'bitch he wants to. If your spine doesn't tingle when he absolutely blows the doors off the album during "I Was Wrong" or feel the immense pain seeping through on "Either Way," well, I can't help you. Good luck finding anything close to that on any of the Bro-Country records out there.

The earworm level on From A Room: Volume 1 is quite high; while there are tracks that stand out immediately on first listen (opener "Broken Halos," for instance), others burrow nice and deep to where you'll find yourself humming the tune weeks later. "Without Your Love" is a great example; it almost comes off as more of stripped-down pop song than the traditional country you'd be expecting, but it is no less captivating

There's a sequel to this record coming in December entitled From A Room: Volume 2. Stapleton has essentially previewed the record as being cut from the same cloth as Volume 1, which would make sense considering the two were recorded at the same time.

Truth be told, it doesn't really matter. Right now, Chris Stapleton is on absolute fire doing what he does best: writing and singing his own country songs. Were that the rest of the Nashville establishment following his lead, but hey, we'll take baby steps first, right?

Rating: A

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