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The Journal Gazette

  • Mercury Records  

Sunday, May 14, 2017 1:00 am

Music review: Chris Stapleton

'From A Room: Volume 1' Chris Stapleton

Covering a song that Willie Nelson has already turned into a masterpiece might seem like a fool's errand – unless you manage to make it your own.

Chris Stapleton does just that on “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning,” a song Nelson covered memorably more than three decades ago. In the process, Stapleton proves he belongs in any conversation about the best things that have happened in country music ever since.

Two years after releasing the landmark “Traveller” album, Stapleton delivers “From A Room, Volume 1,” the first batch of songs recorded in Nashville's Studio A with producer Dave Cobb. It's sure to solidify Stapleton's status as one of the most authentic voices working in any genre.

Like a handful of great country vocalists – including those named Jones, Haggard and Cash – Stapleton sounds like he downed a shot of whiskey before every song.

But when he leans into “I Was Wrong,” steadily pleading his way toward a higher register, Stapleton's passion evokes the likes of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and other blues, gospel and soul legends.

Yes, that's heady territory. But it's also an indication that Stapleton is an artist with rare talent, still ascending.

– Scott Stroud, Associated Press