“Sea Change” LP by Corey Stapleton And The Pretty Pirates.

Sea Change is the new full-length album from Corey Stapleton And The Pretty Pirates. Featuring the already released single, “Western Son”,  the former Montana politician and US Naval Academy graduate brings a wealth of life experiences and points-of-view to his songs. Flowing underneath Stapleton’s gentle-giant-of-a-voice is a plethora of acoustic guitar, piano and steady rhythms. Don’t let the backing band’s name fool you – these Pirates navigate calm waters and create a steady flow of rousing tempos. At first listen, you might think Stapleton hails from the South, an undermined accent. Sit awhile and that determined voice rings true of the ‘Big Sky’ and “Treasure” state. Something to be treasured, indeed. 

The first song, the title track, is a great opener and chance for the listener to really settle-in for what’s to transpire. Stapleton builds upon a smooth and eventually stirring ditty of an acoustic guitar with a song about self-discovery and how it’s not only affecting his personal relationships, but how it is changing his perspective of the world. I think not only was this the perfect theme of the album, but a very timely one. I think knowing a bit more about Stapleton’s background in the military and his time as a Senator and Montana Secretary of State opened my eyes a bit more to the lyrics. Yet, it didn’t really create a bias either. I can think of 10 friends that have changed careers or even ended long-term relationships. It takes a lot to have this kind of openness. 

From there, “Western Son” and “The Coin” dive into more autobiographical footprints. He’s building a story that is laced with his personal mantras and even self-doubts. He peppers Sea Change with his personal shortcomings (songs like “Make This Work” and “The Darkest Part”) and delivers a knock-out punch to the current affairs and protest song selection, “Kabul’s Fallen”. And within the walls of “The Pen” he sustains the sensitivity and humanity, with some grace, that he seems to hold at the highest of esteem. It’s interesting that in the song order, “The Pen” comes just before “Kabul’s Fallen”, as to me they do flow into each other. My initial reaction would have been vice versa…but I’m not the artist. 

The loftiness in Stapleton’s voice is balanced by the realness in his words. He’s grounded. But he’s still American. Whether most Americans like to admit it or not, we dream big and we think big. I found it especially interesting, then, that songs like “Mosaic” seem to almost miniaturize the impact each person’s importance in our lives is placed on. I could easily picture this grand table of tiny puzzle pieces all scattered about and Stapleton patches together and places all these shared objects, these broken souls and perfect (from the outside) people in our lives that make up these mosaics. “Mosaics” is such a splendid spell of a song – as are the final two tracks, “As The Crow Flies” and “New Me”. Just as Stapleton seems to sit for a time and reflect upon his life changes and the changing look of America, “As The Crow Flies” and “New Me” catapult his story and his thoughts into his next chapter. He certainly ends on a high note. 

Michael Rand

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