When Chris Stapleton released the first installment of From A Room in May of 2017, it seemed possible that the two records would add up to a grand statement, but From A Room: Volume 2 is essentially the mirror image of its predecessor. Both records clock in at a swift 32 minutes, lasting no more than nine songs -- brief even by the standards of '60s or '70s country, when it was common to release two or three records a year. Intentionally or not, Stapleton winds up evoking this era with the two volumes of From A Room, neither of which is dependent on the other but neither of which can be seen without its sibling. If Stapleton released just one simple album as the sequel to his career-making, award-winning Traveller, it would've seemed like he was hedging his bets, but by spinning out two sturdy collections of songs, he catapults himself into the status of a lifer. Truth be told, he was already angling at this narrative at the dawn of Traveller -- he had a career as a professional songwriter in Nashville, just waiting for the right time to make a splash as a recording artist -- but the fact that he churned out two strong, modest records within the space of a year speaks to his command of art. Stapleton doesn't bother to expand his purview; he decides to deepen his sound on From A Room: Volume 2, heightening familiar sounds. He cranks up up the guitars on "Midnight Train to Memphis," evokes the ghost of Waylon on "Hard Livin'," eases into the sunset on "Scarecrow in the Garden," and simmers soulfully on "Nobody's Lonely Tonight." It's a collection of moments, just like From A Room: Volume 1, but that's the charm of From A Room: Volume 2. Stapleton isn't crafting a major statement; he's knocking out a bunch of songs that work on their own terms -- and when the two records are combined, it's clear he's the lifer he intends to be.
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine