“Starting Over” – Chris Stapleton (2020) [english]

Three years have passed since 2017 when Chris Stapleton gave us two albums (From A Room Volume 1 and 2), two exceptional works, short dry but of a unique intensity, his unforgettable voice, his poetic texts. His mixing country, rock, blues, southern rock and using his voice as a soul singer are unique features, but so little commercial that I had a fear, a fear that assails me when a cult singer, those who don’t care about fashions, It becomes very popular on the charts and is required by the mainstream. The fear that he would lose that desire to play and sing still outlaw country, to tell us true stories, to bring these sounds so niche to the general public without ever being distorted, because it is enough his voice and his guitar. Here is this fear has been wiped out in a moment, the second that goes from pressing play to the first notes coming out of the speakers : it is he, remained the same as the wonderful debut Traveller of 2015 and if the title of the album and the first track, Starting Over,  he does not seem to start over, indeed continues the common thread that is his trademark : a wise mix of poetry and outlaw country, oscillating between rock and blues, between soul and folk, using his voice as an instrument and being helped in the production by the wizard of the Nashville consoles, Dave Cobb, who also plays acoustic guitar. Rereading the articles I had written for the other 3 records of his short but legendary career, I have to repeat myself : there is no second out of place, there is nothing that is not worth listening and being remembered. We cry, we laugh, we dance, we get moved listening to stories that could be ours, so simple but so poetic and what about the sound? Each piece is a small gem, without exception! And if you think that, as in his debut, the record is composed of 14 songs (many for “normal” commercial needs), then you will have the perception of the greatness of this artist. The title-track is an almost folk ride, the acoustic guitar of Chris accompanies in the journey his wonderful voice that tells us how you can always start again, without being afraid to fail, to lose. As always the voice of his beloved wife Morgane is the perfect completion and the song is already a classic. Stapleton picks up the electric guitar and scratches the air with a killer riff and in Devil Always Made Me Think Twice accompanies us in the shores that were Waylon Jennings, an exceptional outlaw country song, with a sharp, exciting solo. The sound is perfect, nothing is left to chance. The text tells us how education is important, God guides us, but the temptations of the dark side are difficult to keep away, simple but incisive. A melancholy and sad melody is introduced by the piano of Benmont Tench, start Cold, then the incredible voice of Stapleton gives us an intense and touching song, his desperate words of a love now ended almost move. Perfection is the almost orchestral arrangement of the piece that is the classic cherry on the cake, the touch in more than a piece already beautiful but that with the help of violins, cellos and viola acquires a pathos that will twist more than a face with bitter tears. Another romantic ballad but this time it’s a dedication, When I’m With You is an exciting and beautiful dedication to his wife : “The places I’ve been / There’s some I’d go back to and somewhere I won’t go again / And most of the time / I’m feeling like I’m fading into the night / But when I’m with you / I feel like a dreamer that’s had all his dreams come true / Like my skies are all blue / When I’m with you”. A classic country piece but that Stapleton’s voice intertwined with that of his wife makes it unique, we can already imagine him on stage singing with her as they stare for very long minutes. The true completion of a great artist. The tension and the emotion were so high with these two ballads that the good Chris must have thought now we make a nice road song and with Arkansas gives us a track almost southern rock, dirty and funny, a journey through a beautiful state often forgotten by tourist circuits but where “All the boys and the girls down there sure know how to have a ball”. The work of the guitars is exceptional, you get wild and you just want to get it started again. It took! The next one is a cover of John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Joy of My Life, an acoustic ballad that as in the whole album is made unique by a voice that once known, you will never want to leave. Another very direct dedication to his wife Morgane, someone in the end the other half of the apple really finds. Direct reference to the great Steve Earle both in the music but also in the story told in Hillbilly Blood, a beautiful country rock flavor, which tells the life of his land and as in Earle‘s Copperhead Road , Stapleton adds to a fictional story, pictures of living in his Pike County. Many of his countrymen will have recognized themselves and will love to madness this story of road and real life. The loss of a dog for those who have lived it is something that touches the heart and soul, here in the ballad Maggie’s Song the artist tells us with open heart the story of this feeling that it is impossible to explain to those who have not lived it. Simple but moving, very personal but everyone can recognize us. Whiskey Sunrise is a dusty and dragged piece of pure country outlaw, stories of souls that yearn and search in the bottom of a glass of whiskey the answer that will not come and that the dawn will make you realize how much it was a mistake to look for it there. He doesn’t invent anything but his voice makes it all as never heard before. The final solo is beautiful and sharp. Following two covers of one of the greatest American storytellers, Guy Clark, from the fantastic discography of the great texan, Stapleton chooses Worry B Gone, and gives us a beautiful honky tonk of those to sing and dance on the boards of a dusty saloon of Texas and the poignant ballad Old Friends, to which it does justice and gives a new youth. Often overlooked, Clark is definitely to be considered one of the greatest of all time and the two covers are there to prove it. The air gets heavy, started Watch You Burn, dirty sound and bad voice, there is nothing politically correct here just a therapeutic desire for revenge and justice. The story you’re referring to is the well-known story of the terrorist who fired on the crowd that rushed for the Route 91-Harvest country festival in Las Vegas. A surprising but due vent, Stapleton in no uncertain terms with a voice never so rock, says to the terrorist (“Only a coward would pick up a gun / And shoot up a crowd trying to have fun“) : “Yes, you’re gonna get your turn / Devil gonna watch you burn“. Nothing political, just a healthy rage at an insane and senseless tragedy. There are many elements of this record that remind Tom Petty and his Hertabreakers not only for the feeling but also for the instrumentalists, the already mentioned Tench but also Mike Campbell who is co-author of the song and gives us the sound of his electric guitar for the second piece more unsettling and for this more beautiful than an already stupendous record. The next one,You Should Probably Leave, softens the tension and is one of the most loved songs by fans who listened to her many times at her concerts, but that Stapleton had never recorded only played live. The piece that tells us about bad decisions, sounds like a solar ballad but with a melancholy soul and is the prelude to the closing of the record and perhaps the circle started with Traveller. An incredible journey that had brought him to the city of American music and then with Nashville, TN gives almost a farewell message to everything that means for him this city after reaching success among a thousand difficulties. Now that it is realized, she feels too different from this world and in this magnificent, melancholy ballad, helped by Morgane’s voice, she says goodbye in his own way : “You built me up / You set me free / You tore down my memories / So you be you and I’ll be me / So long Nashville, TN“. Beautiful, short but intense. A simple and perfect record, as well as the white cover that reproduces the handwriting of the recording reels : title and author. Nothing else do you need to know, now it is a seal of guarantee his name and his voice, certainly the fear that he had diverted commercial lines given the collaborations of recent years, It was a lot but it took a few notes to realize that there are no charts that hold when you believe in what you do and you have the talent that God gave to Chris Stapleton. His voice heals the soul trust me, whatever kind you love or listen to, find out if you do not know him, you will not abandon him anymore.

Good listening,

Trex Willer

(you can find italian version of this article at this link : https://www.trexroads.com/starting-over-chris-stapleton-2020/ )

Pubblicato da Trex

Sono un blogger e scrittore appassionato di musica indipendente americana. Scrivo gialli polizieschi e ho inventato il personaggio del detective texano Cody Myers.

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