Album Of The Week
Think of all the artists who’ve recorded at RCA Records’ legendary Studio A in Nashville. The list is iconic. There’s Elvis Presley, of course, making the trip down the road apiece to the famed studio. You also had Dolly Parton, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Eddy Arnold, and Waylon Jennings. There are also contemporaries such as Kasey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, and Keith Urban.
You can now add Chris Stapleton to the list of accomplished stars recording from Studio A. In the summer, he released From A Room: Volume 1 and the just-released From A Room: Volume 2 follows up on that success. Notice the emphasis on “A” Room, Stapleton’s way of paying credit to his forebears.
The From A Room series catapults the songwriter, who has been gigging in Nashville for more than a decade to modest acclaim, into the echelon of premier country artists recording today.
He opens with the bluesy “Millionare,” sharing vocals with his wife, Morgan on the Kevin Welch cover. Wise choice. Stapleton deserves all that he’s getting right now, coming up on Album of the Year lists all over the place. Covering an influential yet lesser known Music City colleague is pretty classy.
He shares songwriting credit with Mike Henderson on the country-ballad “Nobody’s Lonely Tonight”, calling to mind Studio A sessions of yore. “Hard Livin'” is outlaw blues in the key of Waylon. “Midnight Train To Memphis” is in the same vein, with Stapleton wailing squelches and reverb as he chugs up the tracks to face the law.
In addition to sharing vocals with his wife, Stapleton wrote “A Simple Song” in collaboration with his father-in-law, cataloging life through its challenges. The finger-picking is precise: “Momma saved some money up / Till I had to fix my truck/ Talked to brother the other day / He didn’t have much to say.”
Debts go unpaid. Unemployment beckons. It turns out that Stapleton can’t let go of his roots, turning in one of the best country/rock releases this year.