Admittedly, we don’t regularly cover alt-country, which says something not only about this publication, but also how the genre is so often neglected and overlooked in this city. Fortunately we have Chris Stalcup to remind us that impassioned songwriting exists independently of style, and that, perhaps more than anything, authenticity matters. The Atlanta singer-songwriter is releasing his sophomore LP, Downhearted Fools, today and it’s ten tracks deep of sharp, imaginative storytelling that occasionally tugs at your heartstrings, but not before pumping you full of late-night whiskey rockers and moonshine blues.
This is a record that’s unmistakably Southern, imbued with the kind rugged, introspective soul and poignant character sketches that have made Drive-By Truckers so much more than just a group of local boys done good. There’s poetry in his playing, wisdom in his heartache, strength in his vulnerabilities. Stalcup throws caution to the wind and lays it all bare for the listener — the failed relationships, the lonesome nights, the fear of dying alone. But while Downhearted Fools can be a dark, brooding, angst-filled album, it also elicits feelings of triumph and elation, the kind that only arrives when you find yourself living life on your own terms. In other words, it’s a record that combats mortal dread with mortal defiance proving that Stalcup isn’t the type to do down without a struggle.
Downhearted Fools is available now via Bandcamp.