Well, where to begin.
It’s difficult to approach this review in the way I’ve approached others where I attempt to provide some insight into most or all of the songs on the album. To do so for an album like this, at least for me, would prove a very daunting task (though I will look at a few particular standouts).
And that’s a good thing.
There’s very little cheer on this album. Most of it is dealing with harsh realities of heartbreak, loss, pain, and regret. Sure, it may have it’s more positive moments interspersed here and there, but this is not an album that’s going to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.
Stapleton has crafted a masterpiece. He wrote or co-wrote twelve of the album’s fourteen tracks. Many will be familiar with “Whiskey and You,” which Jason Eady recorded on last year’s Daylight/Dark. Eady stayed very true to Stapleton’s vision as a songwriter. It’s a very acoustic song with minimal production and a huge standout on the album.
“When the Stars Come Out” is another noteworthy track that is one of the few more positive-attitude songs on the record where Stapleton sings of experiencing a memorable night in L.A. “when the stars come out and shine and burn so bright they drown the downtown lights.” He seems to compare this night against other ordinary nights in the relationship and that these types of nights are special because they only occur every now and then. It provides such a stark contrast against the wealth of songs that are around in a current environment that treat every Friday night like it’s the best time in the world.
Another track that stands out among the pack is “The Devil Named Music,” where a long-term troubadour sings about missing his home, his daughter, and his wife, but “the devil named music has taken my life.”
This is easily one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, and will without a doubt end up on my Top 10 albums at the end of the year. I can’t recommend this album highly enough. This is a modern masterpiece and is exactly what country music is supposed to sound like.