Chris Stapleton: Starting Over
As you might expect of an album titled Starting Over, Chris Stapleton’s first new release since 2017’s two-volume From a Room packs in a few reflective moments. “Someday, we’ll look back and smile and know it was worth every mile,” he sings in the title track, while “Maggie’s Song”— about a beloved, now departed dog “left in a shopping cart…in a parking lot for us to find”—is sure to elicit a tear or two. But nostalgia and wistfulness can only go so far. In “Nashville, TN,” our narrator’s got leaving on his mind: “I wish you well/ You built me up, you set me free/ You tore down my memories,” he proclaims, and he’s had enough of that. “Watch You Burn” is a vicious condemnation of the “coward” who shot up a crowd of country fans in Las Vegas. And whoever it was that broke the man’s heart in “Cold”—“shattered like a rock through a window”—left a mark that’s not going away any time soon. Regardless of where he’s going lyrically, Stapleton brings to each successive tune a rugged assuredness and a steely resolve: There’s never any doubt that he means what he says, and his rock-solid supporting cast (including a pair of Heartbreakers, Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell) is ever in the pocket. A couple of notable cover tunes are natural fits: “Worry B Gone,” one of two here co-written by the late Guy Clark, piles on stinging, chugging guitars, and John Fogerty’s “Joy of My Life” helps sum up the record’s outlook. “Long as I have you I’ll treasure each and every day,” Stapleton sings, and who wouldn’t want to be right there right now?