Raw. Passion. Soulful. Bluesy. Real Country. All of these things identify Chris Stapleton’s sophomore effort, From A Room, Volume 1. Released exactly two years to the date of his debut Traveller on May 5th, the nine song project is the first of two fans can expect from the bearded singer this year. From A Room, Volume 1 (the name taken from RCA Studio A, where both projects were recorded) stays on the slower to mid tempo side other than two tracks. Stapleton co-wrote eight of the album’s nine tracks that includes a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing In The Morning.”
The album opens with “Broken Halos.” The mid tempo track has an uplifting message with its gospel-esque lyrics. The chorus reads, “Seen my share of broken halos/Folded wings that used to fly/They’ve all gone wherever they go/Broken halos that used to shine.” A cordial opener that sets the pace for the rest of the album.
“Second One To Know” is a nice rocker with a blues riff. The electric guitar gives the track a White Stripes vibe. Stapleton performs all of the guitar tracks on the album, so it’s nice to hear him perform a nice and clean solo on this track. Stapleton debuted the song at the 52nd ACM Awards in April, although it was not the album’s first single. The song was co-written by Stapleton and his former Steeldrivers bandmate, Mike Henderson. “Second One To Know” would make a great radio single as it falls under the three minute mark and is at a quicker pace than his other singles.
“Either Way” is the album’s debut single and most stripped down song. Stapleton and his acoustic guitar sing with raw emotion of how he and his wife have fallen out of love. “We can just go on like this/Say the word and we’ll call it quits/Baby, you can go or you can stay/But, I won’t love you either way,” Stapleton sings in the chorus. It’s currently 39 on the Mediabase Country Charts with 1,114 adds in its first week.
“I Was Wrong” is another slower bluesy track with a clean electric guitar sound. It features Stapleton’s raspy voice confessing his love to the woman he lost. The guitar solo is simple but effective and leaves you wanting more.
“Them Stems” is the second uptempo track that is in line with “Might As Well Get Stoned” from Traveller. He sings about trying to find more weed after smoking his last batch. The bluesy shuffle features a nice harmonica solo, which is few and far between in country music these days, and another pleasant guitar solo from Stapleton.
Chris Stapleton may be country music’s saving grace! While there are other country traditionalists, Stapleton is the most raw and pure sounding. Unlike most albums that are over-produced today, the album features minimalistic instrumentation with only guitars, drums, bass, harmonica, pedal steel, organ, percussion and background vocals. I’m glad Universal is letting Stapleton do his thing without forcing a huge production.
If you’re a fan of Stapleton, you’ll be sure to pick up this album. If you’re not familiar with his music (and how could you not be after seeing his performance with Justin Timberlake at the CMAs in 2015?), then you should at least go to iTunes and sample the tracks. I’m pretty sure you’ll be inspired to spend the $10 and add it to your collection.