The breakout star reveals track list for upcoming album — and plans for volume 2

By Eileen Finan
April 06, 2017 11:30 AM
Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2017/FilmMagic

After rocketing to stardom with his performance at the 2015 CMA Awards with Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton quickly became one of country music’s most celebrated voices — and with a double platinum album under his belt, the burly star would have every right to boast and preen in front of a Nashville industry crowd gathered last night for a first listen of his latest musical effort.

But as Stapleton stepped before an audience who were noshing on nachos and cocktails before the main event, the Kentucky native simply offered a shy smile, inquiring politely, “Everyone get a taco?” And then, looking around the packed room at Nashville’s storied RCA Studio A, he observed with a chuckle, “There are a few more people here tonight than at the last one.”

Indeed, Stapleton’s break-out moment singing “Tennessee Whiskey” with Timberlake (a neighbor now that the two stars bought property near one another in Leiper’s Fork, south of Nashville, who called Stapleton “one of THE MOST gifted musicians, songwriters and vocalists I’ve ever met”) propelled the longtime songwriter and former SteelDrivers singer to the top of the charts with his first solo effort Traveller, and since then, country insiders have been eager to hear what’s next.

On Wednesday, the 38-year-old reigning CMA male vocalist of the year unveiled the track list for his upcoming album, From A Room: Volume 1, out May 5 — and revealed that Volume 2 will follow. The album title refers to Studio A, where the singer cut both volumes, along with his Grammy-winning Traveller. The space was once run by Music Row luminaries Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley, and Dolly Parton, Charley Pride and Willie Nelson are among the icons who have recorded there. “We camped out here a couple of months,” Stapleton told the crowd of creating the albums in the historic venue.

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Volume 1 again proves that while Stapleton may speak softly, he wields some mighty pipes. Standouts include the blistering “Second One to Know,” which the singer performed Sunday at the ACM Awards, and the spare, aching ballad “Either Way.” Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, Stapleton’s powerful, pained vocals on the song (“You can go or you can stay/I won’t love you either way”) left the listening crowd in awed silence, then evoked the most enthusiastic applause of the night.

The singer’s take on Nelson’s 1982 hit “The Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning,” is classic old country but Stapleton’s bluesy vocals make it new again. The nine-song set (all except the Nelson tune co-written by Stapleton) is brimming with blues riffs, heartbreak and loss, including “Death Row,” a dirge that closes the record. The sorrow-soaked themes are somewhat surprising given the joy evident in the singer’s relationship with his wife and back-up singer Morgane, whose lovely harmonies on the album make one wonder if there could be another Stapleton star in the wings. On Wednesday night however, she was simply one more fan among many in this town, singing along to her husband’s new tunes as she listened.

Here’s the full track listing for Chris Stapleton’s FROM A ROOM: VOLUME 1, out May 5:

  • Broken Halos (Written by: Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson)
  • Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning (Gary P. Nunn and Donna Sioux Farar)
  • Second One To Know (Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson)
  • Up To No Good Livin’ (Chris Stapleton and Casey Beathard)
  • Either Way (Chris Stapleton, Tim James and Kendall Marvel)
  • I Was Wrong (Chris Stapleton and Craig Wiseman)
  • Without Your Love (Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson)
  • Them Stems (Chris Stapleton, Jimmy Stewart and Shawn Camp)
  • Death Row (Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson)