Chris Stapleton - From A Room: Volume 1
Anyone who bought the debut album “Traveller” or who saw Chris Stapletons stunning set at C2C 2016 would know that you tend to get more by getting less and “From A Room Volume 1” does little to change a winning formula. Forget multi tracking, some of these songs are just an acoustic guitar and Chris singing, yet he never fails to grab the listener attention.
The opening song “Broken Halos”, the song of someone who has problems and who has seen many people try to help him along the way, only to eventually give up. It has trademark minimal instrumentation, and is almost a folky introduction to the new album.
The second song “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” is a cover of a Willie Nelson song from his 1982 album “Always on My Mind”, this version with a mournful harmonica setting the atmosphere for Chris to really convey the hurt and pain of a man who has reached the very limits of endurance, with bills arriving, trash not being collected and the hinges falling of his gate. Willie’s version almost sounds too nice whereas this has angst etched in the delivery of every line.
“Second One To Know” is as noisy this album gets, although apart from switching from acoustic to electric guitar it is business as usual. There is more than a nod to ZZ Top in this low fi rootsy rocker about a man who “don't want to lose this thing we have”. His simple plea is that he wants to be the second one to know if its over
There are some great lines on “Up To No Good Living”, such as him being “the Picasso of painting the town”. It’s a character that Chris inhabits easily, someone who has seen and done too much. In this song he has finally met someone who doesn’t believe he has “finally changed from that someone I was to somebody I ain't But she finds it hard to believe that she’s turned me around”.
In 2008 Lee Ann Womack recorded “Either Way” where backing vocals were provided by a certain Chris Stapleton. This song is a 30 minute drama packed into a 4 minute song. Once again just Chris and his acoustic guitar hold the listener spellbound as we hear of a couple who have reached a point where they no longer care about each other. The vocals have a world weary feel to them on the verses as he details how things have broken down. On the choruses Chris gives a spectacular performance taking his vocals to the very limit.
The album then takes a couple of interesting diversions over a similar theme of losing a woman. The electric guitar comes out for the soulful vibe that is “I Was Wrong” with initially a surprisingly soft vocal before building up to a more familiar plaintive outburst at the songs climax. There is a lovely little blues guitar solo which fits in perfectly with the mood of the song. The next song “Without your Love” has very much a late sixties feel to it. Once again, the vocals are a lot softer, as Chris ponders on how life feels without his partner where “Every hour is the darkest time of day And every moment's a crime”
The album closes with 2 songs from the dark end of the street, the first “Them Stems” detailing someone in a “bad bad way”, reduced to smoking the last dregs of his remaining drugs while he frets if his dealer has been sent to jail. The uptempo guitar and blues harmonica providing a cheerful counterpoint to the lyrical depravity being described. Closing out the album is the almost cinematic “Death Row”, the music slowly meanders along just like time for the man who is “Marking days till I get the call”. Once again by using so little instrumentation, the song conjures up the feeling of being alone in a hot cell waiting for the inevitable.
As a collection of songs it probably surpasses “Traveller”, our serving suggestion would be play loud while sitting in a dark room with a glass of whisky to get maximum enjoyment.