If there’s a template for Chris Stapleton’s first two records, it’s that he records them in a single room, with a single band and includes a couple classic songs (at least classic to him) on each project. It is with this template that we have the aptly titled From A Room: Volume 1. The nine track album was recorded with Dave Cobb co-producing from RCA Studio A. “Second One To Know” is a bluesy rocker that likely dates, like three others on this project, to Chris Stapleton’s time in The Steeldrivers, the Grammy-nominated roots band he fronted prior to his solo career. “Up To No Good Lovin’” has a classic country sound which recalls Outlaw country stalwarts Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Add some Loretta Lynn-like harmonies from Morgane Stapleton (his wife) and you have the makings of a modern classic.
“Either Way” is the first mainstream single from this record and it sits halfway into From A Room: Volume 1. Written with Tim James and Kendall Marvel, the song Either Way was first heard on Lee Ann Womack’s Call Me Crazy record but it wasn’t exactly laid bare the way Stapleton sings here. This one is a soul-stirring, acoustic rendition where the lyrics are pointed and paint a picture of a threadbare soul realizing that a relationship has come to an end. This is a show-stopping piece.
The blue eyed soul track “I Was Wrong” is another chance for Chris Stapleton to show off why he’s such a dynamic presence on record and live (and his screams aren’t yelling). He’s a triple threat as a writer, singer, and perhaps more surprisingly to some, as a guitar player. That’s his guitar solo on this song. Chris Stapleton sang about getting stoned on Traveller and he does so again with “Them Stems,” this one not as bellow-y as “Might As Well Get Stoned,” but a pot song nonetheless. “Broken Halos” has classicist songwriting while “Death Row” has all kinds of instrumental goodness to the track. Lyrically, sonically and vocally, it’s a clear highlight on the record.
Chris Stapleton has become a star by doing stuff his own way. With From A Room: Volume 1, Chris Stapleton has one again delivered the goods with the kind of record most artists can only dream of making and we’ve got a second volume like it coming down the pike later this year. Instantly, From A Room: Volume 1 is a top contender for album of the year and it may take Volume 2 to knock it from its lofty perch.