PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Chris Stapleton - "Fire Away" (Singles Going Steady)

Chris Stapleton succeeds at making one of those tracks you swore you already knew, but just forgot the words to. Nothing fancy, but that’s the point.

Chris Ingalls: This is certainly miles ahead of the standard bro-country that pollutes the American music landscape, and although I'm not really in love with this, there's plenty to appreciate here. Stapleton's got a hell of a singing voice, and there's an authenticity in the arrangement that's easy to like. Sort of an alt-country Bob Seger, maybe? The video is... well, it sort of reminds me of one of the more serious dramatic arcs of Friday Night Lights with all that Texas quasi-hipster marital discourse, but as evidenced by the URL at the end of the video, it's actually a serious plea for mental health illness awareness, so I give everyone involved points for bringing this issue to light. [7/10]

Emmanuel Elone: There isn't too much to separate from your run-of-the-mill country rock. The song follows the basic verse-chorus-bridge structure and the slow, heavy drums fill out the sliding electric guitar riffs. Stapleton's voice is rough yet sweet, like a shot of good whiskey. "Fire Away" isn't bringing anything new to the table, but it does recapture the essential elements that makes country and rock music so good. [6/10]

Steve Horowitz: Wow, I didn’t see that coming. If you like the song, stay away from the video. It’s got an important message, maybe -- but the song is more ambiguous and better as a result. Stapleton succeeds at making one of those tracks you swore you already knew, but just forgot the words to. Nothing fancy, but that’s the point. You take a chance on love. You can get hurt. But sometimes you just have to take the risk -- sung with a twang. [7/10]

Pryor Stroud: Curling his toes around a tumbleweed guitar riff and a woeful, cross-to-bear melodic lament, Chris Stapleton flexes his whisky-breathed rasp to its sacrificial zenith in "Fire Away", heaving the chorus injunction up to a note that persists and extends and threatens to collapse into itself, before leveling out and steadily dropping its guard, leaving the singer stripped of his thick-skin as the two syllables of "away" relinquish themselves to smoke. This isn't a bullet delivered; it's an offering of high-powered ammunition, a gun loaded and handed over to the lover who can do the most damage with it. Considered holistically, the track, for all its gusto and heart-on-its-tattered-tee-shirt-sleeve sincerity, remains a devoutly middle-of-the-road deep country ballad, an unabashed "blue-jean serenade" built on convention, but it's speckled with some bluesy sonic play that keeps it from sounding like a self-righteous act of backroad martyrdom. [6/10]

Chad Miller: Lacks personality and depth, and there aren't enough redeeming qualities to make up for this. The melody isn't anything special either. Easily forgettable. [5/10]

SCORE: 6.20

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.


Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.


MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.