REVIEW: Corey Stapleton And The Pretty Pirates — Sea Change (LP)
With a sweetness in his voice that conjures up the sounds of sitting back on a rocking chair listening to stories or even just popping a squat around a campfire, Corey Stapleton And The Pretty Pirates deliver meaningful and treasured sentimentality in the album Sea Change. Also evoking the warmth and cast-away dreamy melodies of singer/songwriters like James Taylor and Christopher Cross, Stapleton and his band steer their sound into the country genre. Don’t be fooled that the stillness in their sound leaves no room for rhythms or stirring music beds. ON the contrary, Sea Change leaves a wide range of reactions in its wake.
The title track opens the album and right away you get situated into Stapleton’s captivating voice. I wasn’t quite sure where he was going in terms of genres and tones, but I soon discovered that his songwriting and storytelling talents were right at home. By track two, “Western Son” he incorporates some key lines like looking for love, trying to figure it out. He has a high integrity voice and one that is full of sincerity. He’s inviting and you want to know how the story plays out. That instant rapport in his voice serves him so well.
I found “The Coin” to be quite interesting. Where the other songs had a relationship storyline that came right away, I had to listen deeper and find that connection to the song’s title. I’m glad I stuck with it. Push me away, he sings. I liked the parallels to the idea of two sides to a story, two dividing forces at times that makes you really ponder. I marinated in the acoustic rumble and the percolating rhythms. He keeps that steady hand and comforting tone in the next tracks like “Make This Work” and the more spiritual turn in “The Pen”. One of my favorite lines from “The Pen” is when he sings maybe God has another plan…it’s up to us to write the story. Stapleton bridges together the Bible Belt and the southern hospitality with that evocative line. It really brought a smile to my face.
He keeps things pretty serious in the impactful “Kabul’s Fallen” and “The Darkest Park”. Just when you think he’s shown all his cards and all his personality in song, he reveals the gregarious and fun “My First Rodeo.Net”. From there, it’s the sound of the trickling acoustic guitar alongside a trusty piano in “Even Though”. He brings it all home with the last trio of songs “Mosaic”, “As The Crow Flies” and the inspiring “New Me”. The songs’ order, the ebbs and flow of these tracks — it all matters and makes up an exceptional listening experience. His songwriting skills are enviable and he really captures little moments that feel bigger than all of us in Sea Change. Corey Stapleton And The Pretty Pirates are set for a successful course. Sea Change is proof in the pudding that the great American songbook is still being written and staying true to yourself and your art pays off every single time.