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Between walls that once housed sessions for Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn, Stapleton surrounded himself with faithful collaborators and cut some of the most influential — and best-selling — records in modern country music. He and the band trekked in winter to famed Alabama studio Muscle Shoals Sound. He wouldn't be immediately greeted with a comfort felt at Studio A that he compares to putting on a favorite T-shirt. He continued, "All these weird things were going down. The power shut down in all of Muscle Shoals while we were trying to record.
There were all these weird stops. I'm a big 'listen to the s of the universe' guy. We were in this what felt uncomfortable, to me, zone of tryin' to make a record. We'll get back in RCA and we'll see what we got.
And that's what we did. A recording process that once took days for the band and longtime producer Dave Cobb extended into years. He made a good call there. Stapleton returned last winter to Studio A, where he'd track most of "Starting Over. The song record expands a sonic identity and storytelling fervor that Stapleton established on his paramount debut, "Traveller," and its two-part follow-up, "From A Room Vol. It feels a little a bit like not a complete departure, but a little different lane to some of the things we've done. But it still very much sounds like the things that we do. In a sonic kinship to Tom Petty's "Wildflowers," the title track hears Stapleton and wife-singing companion Morgane Stapleton batting back today's challenges by looking toward what's ahead.
On "Arkansas," he offers a jangly Southern rock road trip through the Ozarks; and he sings of a love untouched by age on "When I'm With You," a song Stapleton started on his 40th birthday. Nothing feels pre-meditation. It just comes out of him.
CMA Awards: How the show is safely bringing country stars together. Stapleton dedicated one particularly crushing to Maggie, the family dog of 14 years. Stapleton penned the tribute to his "fuzzy black pup" shortly after her death, he said. On "Maggie's Song," he takes listeners to a farm where the pup kept his kids safe from harm and "took off like a bullet" to play in the snow. They'd finish "Watch You Burn," a scathing tear-down of mass shooters that Stapleton began after the killings at Route 91 Harvest, a country music festival, in Las Vegas.
In the chorus, Stapleton bellows that "devil gonna watch you burn. Stapleton said, "It's a self therapy session sometimes. Sometimes that's all a song's for. They're not for anything else, other than that.
If you're a songwriter that's gonna happen on occasion. For the album, Stapleton enlisted another Heartbreaker, Benmont Tench, to play Hammond B3 organ on a handful of songs.
Adding string arrangements and Tench's organ touch after his trip to Alabama, Stapleton embraces theatrics — accompanied by a world-class guitar solo — ly unheard on his original work. On "Worry B Good," he transformed Clark's acoustic jaunt into a full band throwback rock 'n' roll stomper.
That song can do both. The album closes with "Nashville, TN," a song Stapleton began after "somebody threw a match" in on the fire he'd been building as a solo artist — a reference to the singer breaking out that year at the CMA Awards thanks in part to an explosive Justin Timberlake collaboration. He and his family moved into a rental house down the street from their former home to avoid a barrage of tourist bus stops.
On top of maneuvering fame, landmarks of a Nashville he knew — the publishing house where he wrote most of his catalog and the first studio where he witnessed a record being made — had been torn down. But it was a strange space for me to be in and all of us to live through. Like pulling the plug on a studio session that didn't fit, some decisions sound best months later.
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If you're a songwriter, that's gonna happen'. Matthew Leimkuehler Nashville Tennessean. Share your feedback to help improve our site!New friends and maybe a little country music sometimes
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Chris Stapleton: 'It's a self-therapy session sometimes. If you're a songwriter, that's gonna happen'