Rob’s Album Of The Week: Christopher Paul Stelling’s Labor Against Waste

laborEver since the revival of folk-based acts in the early part of the 2010s, there’s been a dividing line between the innovators and the imitators. Some musicians in the genre have written beautifully original tunes while others seem that they’re just borrowing from the past to create a hash of bland garbage. A singer-songwriter, a troubadour and one of the hardest working people in the music industry, Christopher Paul Stelling has a voice that’ll captivate the ears with songs that have a wonderful knack for telling a story and sending a message. His brand new album, Labor Against Waste, separates him from the rest with excellent quality from track to track. To say that the record is strikingly original is a vast understatement of Stelling’s exquisite talents on a six-string.

His first release off of the Epitaph Records’ sister label ANTI-, there’s a true sense of heart and soul in Labor Against Waste. You have to love the arrangements — a fantastic rustic tone encompasses the entire album to provide very genuine feeling, and the finger picking resonates impeccable energy. Featuring members of PVD’s The Low Anthem as his backing band, you get to dive into a wide array of artistry accompanying the brilliance Stelling brings. With a timeless sound and fantastic skill, Stelling finds perfect harmony by taking from the roots of American music and putting his own spin on it.

It’s already been a pretty wild June — people breaking out of jail, medication-resistant diseases and icons falling like the leaves from a tree in the fall. To tame the unstable wheel we call life, grab hold of my top tracks off of the Album Of The Week. While all of the insanity bustles around you, plug in and relax.


The best example of Stelling absolutely slaying on guitar is “Castle.” His finger picking is on point and his medieval-themed lyrics make for incredible mental visuals. Rhythmic beauty at its fullest, “Warm Enemy” is adorned with a string quartet and a flurry of stomps for a mix of the orchestral and the organic. A bluegrassy barn burner, “Horse” scorches on like wildfire with Stelling belting his heart out. If it doesn’t give you a hop, a jump and a skip, then I don’t know what will.

Christopher Paul Stelling is currently in the middle of touring Europe, but you can catch him at the Newport Folk Festival on Jul 27 at Fort Adams. Make sure you plan your schedule accordingly, because Stelling is a musician you won’t want to miss. For a preview of what to expect from him live, grab a copy of Labor Against Waste. It’s music for the fire in your soul that is itching to get out.

Stream “Warm Enemy” here: