Album Review: Chris Stapleton’s ‘From A Room: Volume 2′

Chris Stapleton returns with his second album this year with the release of From A Room: Volume 2. The follow-up to his CMA Award-winning Album of the Year, From A Room: Volume 1, the nine-song compilation was recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A and produced by Dave Cobb, who assisted on acoustic guitar. Longtime band members including wife Morgane on harmony vocals, bassist J.T. Cure and drummer Derek Mixon add to the album’s full band sound, giving the feel of Stapleton’s live show. There is no over production here and instead the project has Stapleton’s commanding vocals and often poignant lyrics at the forefront of each track.

The reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year continues to showcase his power as a singer, songwriter and guitar player on From A Room: Volume 2 as Stapleton co-wrote seven of the album’s nine tracks. Whether he’s singing of being lucky in love on “Millionaire,” a song penned by Kevin Welch, or of drinking so much he can’t get himself to church on the striking “Drunkards Prayer,” Stapleton mesmerizes the listener with his memorable vocals and emotive storytelling.

Stapleton kicks off Volume 2 with the powerful ode to love, “Millionaire.” With added harmonies by his real-life love, Morgane, the cheerful song strikes a chord. “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,” he croons on the track.

While Stapleton impresses on the upbeat songs, it is on the sad songs where he truly excels. The bluesy “Hard Livin'” has the Kentucky native singing of a difficult life alongside grooving guitar parts and rollicking percussion accompaniment. “I looked a lot but I’ve never found / A woman that could settle me down / I’ve been known to have a good time / No I could never walk the line,” he belts. Meanwhile, on “Scarecrow In the Garden” he tells the somber tale of a man and his son working the land together, praying the rain will come to their farm. The young boy eventually inherits the land from his father but sadly can’t turn things into a successful harvest. “The fields ain’t what they once were,” he laments.

Later, on “Nobody’s Lonely Tonight,” Stapleton paints the picture of two lonesome strangers closing down the bar together. In an effort to get over their heartbreak, the man in the song suggests they find comfort in each other. “I know a way can’t go wrong / Nobody leads nobody on . . . You be her and I’ll be him and for a while we’ll pretend nobody’s lonely tonight,” he sings. The slowed guitar playing and Stapleton’s expressive vocals make this one of the album’s standout songs.

Another highlight includes “A Simple Song,” which Stapleton says is the most honest track on the album. Written with his father-in-law Darrell Hayes, Stapleton sings of a simple life: “I love my life / It’s something to see / It’s the kids and the dogs and you and me,” he shares.

Fans of Stapleton’s previous band the SteelDrivers will be pleasantly surprised to hear “Midnight Train to Memphis.” Co-written by Stapleton and Mike Henderson, and first released while both were in the bluegrass band, Stapleton adds his own flavor to the song with roaring electric guitar and his smooth vocals.

Once again Stapleton impresses with his latest release, From A Room: Volume 2. An engaging album that brings as much grit as it does emotion, Chris Stapleton proves exactly why he continues to win all those Album of the Year and Male Vocalist trophies year after year.