Chris Stapleton - Startin' Over
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Startin' Over (Mercury Nashville, 2020)

Chris Stapleton

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Chris Stapleton's "Starting Over" release is one of those rare beauties of an album, where your favorite track may change from day to day. All of 'em are just that great. It is, simply put, Stapleton's best full-length to date.

You may love the title track, which puts flesh and bone onto the 'better luck next time' wish. Then again, the spiritual truth contained within the Creedence Clearwater Revival-esque "Devil Always Made Me Think Twice" might also rise to the top of your favorites list. Ain't it just like the Evil One to cause us to think too much about temptation before giving in? "Arkansas" is the perfect combination of guitar rock and Stapleton's gravelly voice. "Watch You Burn" is even better once you realize it was inspired by that horrible mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

Even the (relatively) lighter moments are strong. "Maggie's Song" is a simple tune about a family dog. Even so, Stapleton invests it with such warmth, it will make you appreciate your pooch all the more. The lovely steel guitar running through "Nashville, TN" is selling point enough to recommend the song. Furthermore, it personalizes Stapleton's love/hate relationship with Music City, and it's written like a beautiful goodbye letter. "You Should Probably Leave" is paced like so many wonderful Waylon Jennings songs. "I keep searching for something I know I'm not gonna find," Stapleton admits honestly. Even though he still hasn't found what he's looking for (to paraphrase U2), Stapleton has nevertheless found the right woman. This kind of honesty is rare in Nashville, which is probably why he feels like a fish out of water there at times.

Everything on this release is topnotch, with potential to become your favorite Chris Stapleton song. In this era of singles, "Starting Over" is one of those special albums where you really need the whole thing. Give it some time, and let the favorites song cycle begin.

CDs by Chris Stapleton

Higher, 2023 Startin' Over, 2020 From A Room: Volume 2, 2017 Traveller, 2015

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