Chris Stapleton’s ‘Starting Over’ Begins a New, Unwritten Chapter
Even before he announced it on Instagram, it didn't take a super sleuth to uncover evidence that "Starting Over" was a song. Stapleton played it last fall while on tour, a moment well-covered by country music media outlets. Sonically it's in line with what the 42-year-old put on From A Room Vol. 1 and From A Room. Vol. 2 in 2017: raw, stripped down and vulnerable.
"It don’t matter to me / Wherever you are is where I wanna be / And honey for once in our lives / Let’s take our chances and roll the dice / I can be your lucky penny / You can be my four-leaf clover / Starting over," he sang on a live version of this new song. Here's the full song, followed by more information about other new songs he's played live.
Update: On Thursday Stapleton announced his new album would be called Starting Over and be released on Nov. 13.
Other new songs aren't so close to the image of the bearded country crooner we've crafted and learned to love on a mainstream level since 2015, when he and Justin Timberlake stole the show at the CMA Awards with a David Allan Coe and George Jones cover called "Tennessee Whiskey" (George Strait, incidentally, passed on the song). It's hard to start a career with more country cred.
Flash forward to 2020 and Taste of Country has uncovered at least three additional new songs that may or may not make a new album. All are gritty, amplified, uptempo and very bluesy (see the Five Burning Questions video above). Throw in a genre-bending trailer video that screams Beggars Banquet-era Rolling Stones and Stapleton is making good on a promise to, well, bend genres.
"The world's a broader place now where I think everybody just kind of likes whatever they like and don't put labels on things," he told Taste of Country in February, during a short conversation about his next album. "It's really awesome to see." The Marcus King Band and Yola (artists that were set to tour with him in 2020) were two contemporaries he named when asked who's inspiring him. But of course, Stapleton will always be an old soul, he shared.
It's important to remember that the double 2017 albums were mostly older songs recorded anew. PItchfork hit the nail on the head in reviewing the albums, saying he's monetized his catalog. So if Starting Over (or whatever the new album ends up being called) is built on truly new material, it will be his first record written and recorded in the moment since Traveller, which was released in 2015. A lot has changed for him and for country music since then, and there's a willingness to call just about everything "country" in 2020. A sonic jump might jolt our expectations, but it's just because we haven't had a chance to ride with him on the long, slow journey artists take to reinvent themselves. If you could imagine Eric Church going from Carolina to The Outsiders without first introducing the more exploratory songs on Chief, you're getting the idea.
Like Adele, Stapleton has the vocal talent to weave between genres or simply succeed without classification because the music is just that good. He's country because we need him to be country to support less satisfying acts and songs, but the manner of which his debut album has lingered on album sales charts (No. 7 this week) for five years (with no radio success) is proof that he's not depending on that radio-listening, Walmart-shopping audience. He doesn't have to think outside of the box because there is no box for him, and it's now possible he understands that.
In ramping up the release of new music, Stapleton wiped clean his Twitter and Instagram pages. While he's not released any new music of his own in recent years, he's been a popular collaborator, appearing on new albums by Justin Timberlake and Pink, and with John Mayer. In 2019 he also appeared on Sheryl Crow's Threads album, singing a song called "Tell Me When It's Over."
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