I really don’t think it’s fair to call Chris Stapleton a country singer anymore. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got some serious cred in the genre. His work with the Steeldrivers is amazing and his solo work is just as good. However, calling him a country star seems much too limiting. If we’re being honest, Stapleton is a musician. Plain and simple. He can’t be confined to a single genre. For instance, he and guitar wizard Carlos Santana did a song together not long ago. Now, Stapleton is on a song with Tom Morello.
That’s something I never thought I would write. I love Chris Stapleton’s voice and his musicianship, no matter who he’s playing with. At the same time, I believe that Tom Morello is one of the most inventive guitarists of the past few decades. The sounds he got out of his axe during his time with Rage Against the Machine were mind-blowing. Think back to RATM’s music. Their songs were packed with air raid sirens, turntables, and all manner of other odd sounds. That was all Morello on his guitar. I never, in a million years, thought I would see these two talents on the same bill let alone the same song. Yet, here I am, listening to “The War Inside” at top volume with my jaw on the floor. Check it out below.
“The War Inside” is from Morello’s latest solo project The Atlas Underground Fire. On that album, he collaborated with a long line of elite performers. Chris Stapleton might be the most surprising of the bunch though. However, when you listen to the song, they fit together better than most of us would have believed.
Digging Deeper into Chris Stapleton’s Collab with Tom Morello
The song kicks off with Morello’s effects-laden guitar. After a short solo, though, he fades away and a nice, mellow, rhythm guitar comes in. Sonically, this sounds like a combination of Morello’s band Audioslave and Stapleton’s usual work. The instrumentation isn’t quite country but it’s not far away. Stapleton’s vocals, however, would fit just as well over an acoustic guitar and standup bass as they do on this Dave Cobb-produced rocker.
Lyrically, this song is full of sorrow and desperation. There isn’t much to it, though. There’s a single verse, a pre-chorus, and a chorus. Chris Stapleton croons that chorus a handful of times before the song ends. It seems to get more sorrowful every time he repeats it.
“So high / I can hear the angels cry. / Hellbound / Helpless heart about to drown. / I need to change the things that I believe. /Bye-bye./ I can’t win the war inside.” Damn, those are some heavy lyrics. As usual, Chris Stapleton’s soulful voice adds even more weight to them. That combined with the classic Tom Morello guitar solo at the end makes this one a keeper.