By Joshua Wallace
Chris Stapleton has returned with the follow up to 2017’s dual releases of From A Room : Volume 1 and Volume 2. His new album is titled Starting Over and it finds him back at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A with Producer Dave Cobb. Aside from the typical lineup of Morgane Stapleton (vocals, tambourine), with longtime bandmates J.T. Cure (bass) and Derek Mixon (drums), this record features performances from former Heartbreakers Mike Campbell (electric guitar) and Benmont Tench (Hammond B3 organ) along with the legendary Paul Franklin (pedal steel). That is one incredible lineup for any record and Chris Stapleton makes the most out of it. I feel like Stapleton has created the best record of his career with Starting Over. Let’s take a deeper look at some of these tracks.
The album’s first track and first single is “Starting Over” which is a simple acoustic melody that is super catchy. It reminds me a bit of Volume 1’s “Broken Halos” but more upbeat. The next track is “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice” which appeared on Hailey Whitters album The Dream earlier this year. Stapleton’s version kicks things up a notch with a thick blues riff and the entire vibe of this track is a jam. This is a stark comparison to Whitters more mellow version that takes you more to a smoky blues room rather than a bigger dance hall.
The track “When I’m With You” is a nice country ballad that highlights Stapleton’s voice. It serves as a nice mellow moment around some of the record’s heavy hitters. Speaking of heavy hitters, the track “Arkansas” is a southern rock romp full of grit and soul. It’s a track inspired by a trip to the state of Arkansas and it’s good enough it might inspire some tourism to the home of the Razorbacks. “Hillbilly Blood” is another favorite that kind of reminds me of if you crossed “Death Row” with “Outlaw State Of Mind”. It has that kind of vibe and I dig the thick groove on this track.
“Maggie’s Song” is a tear jerker and one of Stapleton’s best written tracks. This song will make anyone cry, especially pet lovers. “Whiskey Sunrise” is a country blues track that builds slowly to a crushing guitar solo that I hope is extended live because in both instances, the solo ends just as it sounds like it’s getting started on the record. “Watch You Burn” is a heavy track co-written by Mike Campbell and inspired by the 2017 Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival. Stapleton wasn’t there as he says on the song, but he puts enough fire and passion behind this track for all of those who were. Finally, the album ends with “Nashville, TN” which features Paul Franklin on the pedal steel guitar. It’s a song about leaving and at the same time serves as a criticism of how the town treats singers and songwriters who go there with a dream.
There is a lot to unpack with this album and it is one of the best country records of the year and one of the best overall records of the year. Chris Stapleton has put together a collection of songs that are both timeless and meets our current moment in history. There are a few covers on this record with two Guy Clark songs and a John Fogerty track. I highly recommend getting a copy of this record as it will be high on many album of the year lists including my own. You can look forward to Chris Stapleton’s “All American Road Show” tour to resume next year when it is safe to do so. You can find out information about that on his website. Starting Over is out everywhere as of November 13th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : Starting Over, Devil Always Made Me Think Twice, When I’m With You, Arkansas, Hillbilly Blood, Maggie’s Song, Whiskey Sunrise, Watch You Burn, Nashville, TN
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over (2020)
- Starting Over
- Devil Always Made Me Think Twice
- When I’m With You
- Joy Of My Life (John Fogerty)
- Hillbilly Blood
- Maggie’s Song
- Whiskey Sunrise
- Worry B Gone (Guy Clark)
- Old Friends (Guy Clark)
- Watch You Burn
- You Should Probably Leave
- Nashville, TN