JPR Live Session: Christopher Paul Stelling

Jul 28, 2017

Christopher Paul Stelling has been on the move for years now. Left home early to roam and search. Periods spend in Colorado, Boston, Seattle, New York City and North Carolina, all interspersed with further destinations to play his songs. His debut record Songs of Praise And Scorn was recorded at a functioning Kentucky funeral home. American Songwriter heard it and proclaimed, “this what a real self-contained, modern-day troubadour looks and sounds like.” Stelling’s 2015 Anti debut was called Labor Against Waste. Big Takeover called him a “punk rock Leadbelly… a dynamo” while NPR Music wrote, “He's a great finger picker, a strong songwriter, listen to his words - you'll love what you hear.

It was like a fever dream. Every day counting blessings for safe passage.” Out there on the road with his battered guitar, playing 260 shows in just the last year and half, across 46 states and 14 countries, the acclaimed troubadour says he could see it all out there unfolding on the horizon. Amidst the euphoria of playing in bars, cafes, theaters, festivals, under bridges and in living rooms, were late night conversations with friends, new and old, about the undercurrents of tension and change in their countries and concerns about what was happening back in his own. He witnessed immigrant riots, saw the fires burning. “Back in places like New York or Los Angeles it was harder to see,” he says, "But go the a Walmart in Oklahoma and tell me this wasn’t coming.

Unlike previous records, Itinerant Arias finds Stelling backed by a band, electrified if you will. It is a record inspired by movement and travel. The album cover a photograph taken by Stelling himself depicting an arrangement of found objects on his table. With a little more than a week before returning to the road, he retreated to a friend’s Connecticut cabin out in the woods with some musician friends. They slept there, ate there and didn’t leave for the next eight days, recording the haunting and powerful record. “We would wake up in the morning, make coffee and record. The idea was just to live together, eat together and make this record. Having been alone and on the road, it was great to make a home with these musicians for those eight days."