Chris Stapleton


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Traveller (2015), 5/10
From A Room: Volume 1 (2017), 6.5/10
From A Room: Volume 2 (2017), 6/10
Starting Over (2020), 5.5/10
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Chris Stapleton, a Nashville songwriter and formerly the frontman for the bluegrass band SteelDrivers, debuted solo with Traveller (2015), an album that coined a unique hybrid of BB King's blues and Waylon Jennings' outlaw country, plus the ballad Whiskey And You. although he became famous with a cover of Dean Dillon's and Linda Hargrove's Tennessee Whiskey (1981).

From A Room: Volume 1 and Volume 2 (2017) is generally more interesting when it indulges in boogie (These Stems) and blues-rock (Hard Livin'), sometimes bordering on stoner-rock (Midnight Train to Memphis, an old Steeldrivers song), and peaking with the syncopated Second One to Know (possibly his career's highlight), reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama and Free's All Right Now. But Stapleton seems to invent a lot in the slower meditative pieces, such as the acoustic dirge Either Way (originally written for someone else), the agonizing murder blues ballad Death Row and the gospel-ish Tryin' to Untangle My Mind, culminating with the solemn lullabye Scarecrow in the Garden and its apocalyptic and Dylan-esque lyrics. Broken Halos has the stately pace of the Band.

Starting Over (2020) is another cohesive and inspired effort, but the average is just a bit lower, with no specific song rising to the status of standout and too many winking at blue-eyed soul, starting with opener Starting Over and then You Should Probably Leave. The stately piano elegy Cold and the gospel-rock Maggie's Song (reminiscent of the Band's classic The Weight) contrast with the louder moments of the rocker Watch You Burn and the southern-boogie Arkansas.

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