Stapleton has scored one of the biggest, most genuine success stories of 2017 with the album, the follow-up to his breakout debut, Traveller. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and No. 2 overall in the mainstream Billboard 200, and was certified gold in June after selling more than half a million copies.
The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter recorded the album at the legendary RCA Studio A in Nashville, co-writing eight of the album's nine tracks with many of his go-to co-writers. The album has scored singles with "Either Way" and "Broken Halos," and landed on critics' picks lists across a broad spectrum. It's not hard to make the case for why From A Room: Vol. 1 should win the CMA for Album of the Year. Read on, and share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.
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The Sheer Audacity
Stapleton conceived an ambitious project before he even recorded the first note of From A Room: Vol. 1, when he decided to record the entire album in the legendary RCA Studio A. He followed that up by writing great songs and then recording great tracks of those songs, flavoring the album with a wide array of styles that make for a big reach. Add to that his uncompromisingly organic performances and production and you've got a big, bold album that goes unflinchingly against the grain of most contemporary country music -- and does so with remarkable success.
Stapleton wrote eight of the nine songs on From A Room: Vol. 1, balancing out a remarkably diverse mix of country, blues, rock and soul influences with a stellar cover of the Willie Nelson classic "Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning." From the plaintive acoustic introspection of "Either Way" to the rock-tinged "Second One to Know" and beyond, it's an album of songs that can each stand on their own, but also weave together to add to more than the sum of the parts.
It's a Genuine Fan-Driven Success
Stapleton has built his career over the past few years not from manufactured hype, but from directly relating to his fans through music in an old-fashioned way. The success of From A Room: Vol. 1 has been driven entirely by fans seeking Stapleton's music out for themselves and buying it, not from a label spending a ton of money and trading promo to leverage chart positions for singles. That helps to account for the disparity between Stapleton's relatively lighter airplay on his singles and his massive sales.
The Numbers Support It
In an environment in which it's harder and harder to sell actual copies of albums, Stapleton sold half a million in no time flat after he released From A Room: Vol. 1. It's sold more than 525,000 copies to date, and although he doesn't have quite the singles numbers that he enjoys in album sales, he's still scored respectable hits with "Either Way" and "Broken Halos." Stapleton's primary impact is as an album artist, making Album of the Year a particularly apt nomination. It's not always that critics and audiences agree, and the fact that this is one of those times means Stapleton has produced a special piece of work.
Steak Over Sizzle
There may be more exciting artists in country music, artists who leap around more onstage and record more up-tempo party music. There are certainly artists who engage in more bravado and self-promotion, and nobody's going to nominate Stapleton for any awards for his visual appeal. But Stapleton is deserving of a major award like Album of the Year for exactly those reasons: he places substance over style, quality over marketing. You've heard it all before when it comes to Stapleton; that he's one of the best singers, one of the best songwriters, and one of the nicest, humblest, most genuinely deserving artists in country music. You keep hearing that over and over because it's all absolutely true, and he deserves to win Album of the Year in the 2017 CMA Awards.