Chris Stapleton released “From A Room Volume 1” in May and the album quickly became a critic’s favorite and a best seller all summer. Many speculated that Volume 1 could be named “Best Album of 2017”. Chris could still win that honor but he’s now some competition with HIMSELF! Volume 2 is dare I say it, possibly even better! The second release this year feels a little more cohesive and carries a consistent theme but you really can’t go wrong with each choice as the pick of the year. You may remember that his debut release, Traveler, was a double album that took Country Music by storm. At the 49th CMAs, Stapleton became the first artist to ever win Best New Artist, Album Of The Year, and Best Male Vocalist in the same year. But in 2017, Chris showed some patience and spaced out his new material with two separate volumes released six months between releases. If you’re fan of old school country, blues guitar riffs, Southern rock, Stax soul, singer/songwriter tales, and highly personal well-written songs you can’t help but fall in love with Stapleton’s honest approach.
MILLIONAIRE The soulful Tom Petty-ish lead single features his wife, Morgane, on harmony. Who doesn’t love the love over material things theme, “They say love is more precious than gold / Can’t be bought and it can’t be sold / I got love, enough to spare / That makes me a millionaire.” *****
HARD LIVIN’ Stapleton has always sounded like the second coming of Waylon Jennings and this one could pass as a Ol’ Waylon Outlaw Country song from back in the day. ****
SCARECROW IN THE GARDEN Chris is in full storyteller mode here with a somber tale that balances beautifully with a killer chorus. You can see the John Cougar Mellencamp comparisons here. ****
NOBODY’S LONELY TONIGHT The best track on the album? A late night blues jam that showcases Stapleton’s guitar prowess and a mood that touches down deep into your soul. Two lonely bar patrons at last call, “You be her and I’ll be him and for a while we’ll pretend nobody’s lonely tonight.” *****
TRYING TO UNTANGLE MY MIND Love Chris’ delivery on the line, “I do what I do until the day I die”. A jaunty feel-good song with a hell of a guitar riff.
A SIMPLE SONG Stapleton described this song as the most honest song on the album. Co-written with Morgane’s father, the title described the laid-back approach perfectly. ***
MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO MEMPHIS Southern Rock is alive! Who doesn’t love a good prison song! You may remember Kid Rock recorded a track with a similar title years ago, but this one is actually a song Chris recorded this earlier with his Bluegrass band, the SteelDrivers. The hardest rock track on the album, it’s pure attitude, and going to be a concert favorite! ****
DRUNKARD’S PRAYER You can hear the spirit of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard here in this heartfelt “lost in the bottle” acoustic performance. “I hate the fact it takes a bottle to get me on my knees.” ***
FRIENDSHIP Saved the best for last? Originally recorded by Pops Staples (from the legendary Staples Singers) just prior to his death, Chris kicks it up a notch here. Almost feels like a lost Gregg Allman song with that guitar trembolo effect and Stapleton’s bluesy vocals on the chorus. ****