Album: From A Room: Vol. 2
Artist: Chris Stapleton
Label: Mercury Nashville
Released: December 1, 2017
Price: Available for stream, or purchase for $9.99 on iTunes
Chris Stapleton started his now very successful career as an accomplished songwriter. He wrote hit songs such as Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More,” Darius Rucker’s “Come Back Song,” Thomas Rhett’s “Crash and Burn,” and many more. Currently, Stapleton sits atop the country music industry as one of today’s best artists, in addition to his songwriting. His strong voice and quality-written songs continue to shine on the newly released From A Room: Volume 2.
Two years ago, Chris Stapleton took the country music scene by storm with an unforgettable performance with Justin Timberlake at the CMA Awards. He became an overnight sensation after showcasing his powerful vocals at the CMA’s with “Tennessee Whiskey” and the Timberlake hit “Drink You Away.” His debut solo album, Traveller, propelled him into country music superstardom and granted him multiple CMA awards, a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, and a Grammy win for Best Country Album.
This year marks the two-part release of his second project From A Room: Volume 1 & 2. ‘From A Room’ gets its title after Nashville’s RCA Studio A, where the album was recorded. Volume one was released in May and was greeted with instant success by winning Album of the Year at the CMA awards in November. Volume two was released on Dec. 1 and topped number two on the U.S. Billboard Top 200. It is safe to say Chris Stapleton is just getting going as a solo artist. I see more awards in his future.
From A Room: Volume 2 picks up right where Volume 1 left off while embodying a more emotional appeal towards the simple pleasures and attachments in life. Stapleton continues to bring an old-school outlaw vibe back to mainstream country music with songs that are bluesy, rocking, laid-back, and down-right honky-tonk. All songs are sung with power, soul, and at times grace, Stapleton could sing the phonebook and probably have a best-selling album. Many of today’s mainstream country artists you hear on the radio are not even on the same level as Stapleton in terms of his traditional country music style and classic songwriting. And that is not a knock against guys like Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett who are very successful and I enjoy as well, but their music tends to lean more towards country-pop rather than carry a traditional country sound.
The album starts with a cover of Kevin Welch’s “Millionaire.” The song is about being rich with love, and Stapleton nails the song by encompassing its feel-good vibes. He sings, “They say love is more precious than gold/ It can’t be bought and it can’t be sold/ I got love enough to spare/ That makes me a millionaire.” The decision to cover this song and lead off the album with it set the tone, and its lyrics send a happy message that reflects on the valuable things in life.
Stapleton follows that song by busting into the honky-tonk driven song, “Hard Livin’.” He sings about how his wild ways of bar fights, drinking and women have finally (to his surprise) caught up with him. “Never thought it would happen to me/ But this hard livin’/ Ain’t as easy as it used to be,” Stapleton sings with powerful roaring vocals. This song, and “Tryin’ to Untangle my Mind” are the perfect honky-tonk songs that Stapleton is known to crank out. They provide the fun, sandwiched between the softer songs on the album.
Stapleton splices these lighter songs with a mix of softer pieces that really dwell on the theme of enjoying the simple things and emotions in life. “Simple Song,” is exactly that. It is a song about a man who is having trouble looking past the bad things in the world. “Lately things are on my mind/Good news is hard to find,” Stapleton begins. “But I love my life/ Man it’s something to see/ It’s the kids and the dogs and you and me/ It’s the way it’s all right/ Everything goes wrong/It’s the sound of a slow, simple song,” he sings in the chorus. The lyrics of “Simple Song” plead to the simple things in life. Its soft guitar and toned-down vocals from Stapleton put you in a content state of mind where the world seems to slow down around you.
The album finishes much like it starts with the feel-good song “Friendship.” A perfect conclusion to the album that comes full circle. Stapleton brings out some bluesy rhythms and guitar riffs that contribute to the meaning of the song about the strong bond friendship brings.
Chris Stapleton’s warm, soulful voice and poetic songwriting differentiates him from today’s country artists. From A Room: Volume 2 continues his reign over what has a become a unique traditional sound in today’s country music. Songs about love, life, and friendship make this album relatable anybody. In addition, Stapleton’s style and overall identity as a true musician have never been more evident on this record and is something that any music lover can appreciate.