- 30 May 17
The Grammy for best country album is in good shape. This year it went to Sturgill Simpson’s brilliant Sailor’s Guide To Earth, while the year before it was Chris Stapleton’s debut Traveller.
If you’re a fan of Stapleton’s first record, then you’re on safe ground here. If anything, From A Room is a distillation of the ingredients that made Traveller, with the production and arrangements simplified so that more light can be shone on those incredible pipes.
The voice sounds like Stapleton looks: Grizzly Adams without all that unnecessary grooming. It’s located somewhere between a young, angry Eddie Vedder, Waylon Jennings after a wobbler, and the harder end of Bobby Bland. The lonesome holler the singer emits on acoustic heartbreaker ‘Either Way’ would prickle the hair on the back of a statue’s neck. The sound combines outlaw country (a beautiful cover of Willie Nelson’s ‘Last Thing I Needed’) with the best of southern soul (the stately pace of Otis Redding’s greatest ballads). There’s proper honky tonkin’ too in ‘Them Stems’, where Chris is tragically unable to get a hold of his dealer. Elsewhere, ‘Second One To Know’ seriously rocks; the pedal steel waltz ‘Up To No Good Livin’’ – featuring perfect harmonies from Stapleton’s wife Morgane – sees our man cast as the “Picasso of painting the town”; and ‘Death Row’ pairs a lyric that Merle Haggard would have been proud of with blues from the John Lee Hooker school.