Chris Stapleton - From A Room: Vol. 2 Album Review

Story posted 5 days ago in CommRadio by Lauren Smith

Chris Stapleton released his second album of the year From A Room: Vol. 2. Eight months after releasing From A Room: Vol. 1, he picks up right where he left off with 9 new songs that display his soulful country folk and blues mixed with Southern rock.

Stapleton has been known as one of the best songwriters in all music, with over 150 songs that he's written appear on albums for artists like Adele, Luke Bryan and Sheryl Crow. From 2008 to 2010, he was the frontman of the bluegrass group The SteelDrivers. In 2010, he formed the Southern rock group The Jompson Brothers, but neither band that Stapleton was a part of brought him much success until he made his solo debut in 2015 with his album Traveler, winning him a Grammy for Best Country Album of the Year.

His powerful soulful voice and his choice to stick to traditional country folk music in a genre that is going more pop has made him stand out. From A Room: Vol 1 is the best-selling country album of 2017, giving critics and fans high hopes for the release of Vol. 2.

From A Room: Vol.2 got its name from Nashville’s RCA Studio A, which is where it was recorded. Every song on the album has a live-sound to it, sounding like it was recorded more during a concert than in a studio. Stapleton’s secret weapon is his wife Morgane, who sings backups on every song Stapleton has recorded as a solo artists. But with this album, her voice is more dominate on the tracks and makes for perfect harmonies with Stapleton’s mighty voice.

“Millionaire” kicks off the album with a blast of soul mixed with Southern rock. The song is about the importance of love over material objects. A song originally recorded by Kevin Welch, Stapleton makes his mark on it by having a swinging, laidback sound on it. The outlaw in Stapleton comes out in “Hard Livin.” It’s another song under the Southern rock sound that is paired with clever lyrics about all the crazy stuff he used to do and how, “This hard livin ain’t as easy as it used to be.”

“Scarecrow in the Garden” is a soulful ballad. It’s a story-song that paints a picture about a family farm that is failing. It has a haunting sound. “A Simple Song” is exactly that - simple. “It’s the kids and the dogs and you and me,” Stapleton sings in the chorus. The song paints a picture about a family and their love for each other living a simple life. It’s accompanied by a soft acoustic guitar.

The powerhouse song on the album “Midnight Train To Memphis” is a song Stapleton previously recorded with his bluegrass band the Jompson Brothers. After playing the song during every show while on tour, he knew he needed to re-record it. It’s a hook-heavy rocker with huge guitar riffs. Stapleton sings about serving a 40-day sentence in jail and being stuck behind the walls while you hear a train's horn in the distance outside. “Trying to Untangle My Mind” is your typical Stapleton song. He sings about a man who is heartbroken and trying to numb the pain by doing all the wrong things. The band has a more bluesy sound on this tune.

“Drunkard's Prayer” is another ballad with lonely broken heart message. It’s “Death Row” from From A Room: Vol. 1’s brother song. Stapleton bellows out depressing lyrics about a man who is hoping God will forgive his sins since the woman who left him won't. Closing out the album is “Friendship,” the second song Stapleton covers on this album, originally recorded by Pops Staples. Stapleton’s version has a rustic R&B sound and deeper grooves than the original recording.

Stapleton's songwriting makes all the songs on From A Room: Vol 2 sound like they are country classics originally recorded years ago. The way he is able to take bluegrass and rustic country and make it sound modern with blues and Southern rock makes him stand out from all the other country music artists.

Rating: 7/10

 

Lauren Smith is a senior major in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email lks5244@psu.edu.