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]