ToC Critic’s Pick: Chris Stapleton, ‘From A Room Vol. 1′
Chris Stapleton delivers everything you expected on his new album From A Room Volume 1. He's a postman, dropping notes of blues, soul, pain and sorrow into your mailbox. This is a moody, nine-song album that reinforces all we know.
If there's a criticism, it's that From A Room Volume 1 offers few surprises. Stapleton bellows like a lonesome wolf on ballads like "Either Way" and "Death Row." His muscular vibrato tremors during patient blues jams like "I Was Wrong." There's tremendous space on every song — no verse, guitar solo or bridge feels rushed. The project is an artist's album, with priority given to expression and continuity before thoughts of what will or won't work on radio.
It's hard to imagine a chart-topper on Stapleton's newest project, but he's better for it. "Either Way" is nearly a dare to programmers to play a song more sparse that grass in Arizona. "Broken Halos" could work ... one only hopes he has the audacity to send "Them Stems," a Mississippi hill country blues song that finds the singer so desperate for a toke that he smokes the stems.
One song that stands apart from the rest is "Second One to Know," his chosen track at the 2017 ACM Awards. The guitars and rhythm are reminiscent of Jack White — can someone please make that collaboration happen yesterday? From A Room Volume 1 is an album that will further endear Stapleton's fans while proudly eschewing the pop-country crowd.
Key Tracks: "Second One to Know," "Either Way," "Them Stems," "Death Row"
Did You Know?: "Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning" was a Top 5 hit for Willie Nelson in 1982. The song is on Nelson's Always on My Mind album.
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