Chris Stapleton is headed somewhere in his new song “Starting Over.” Over a brushed snare rhythm by drummer Derek Mixon that evokes Willie Nelson’s version of “City of New Orleans” and lyrics about a road rolled out “like a welcome mat,” the country singer is in perpetual motion, his sight set on a better horizon.
Written by Stapleton and his longtime collaborator Mike Henderson (his former bandmate in the SteelDrivers), “Starting Over” expands Stapleton’s rustic sound with a key addition: the Hammond B3 organ of Benmont Tench. The keys man in Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers offers subtle but lush tones that underscore the song’s inherent optimism and dreamy feel. “Starting Over” is for a new day and, like its title implies, a fresh start.
Fittingly, it’s the title track of Stapleton’s first album in three years, a record that finds him reenergized and restless, and even pretty pissed off (just wait until you hear “Watch You Burn”). Still, he remains hopeful on “Starting Over,” a song that, despite being written before the world went to hell in the spring, encapsulates our current moment. Yes, he admits, the road is long and hard, but with loved ones by our side — in his case, the indispensable life and music partner Morgan Stapleton — we’ll get where we’re going.
“Someday we’ll look back and smile,” he sings, “and know it was worth every mile.”
On most days, it’s impossible to believe that. But somehow, when Stapleton says it, you know it to be true.
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