Max Stalling

Max Stalling
Max Stalling

MAX STALLING SERVES UP A BANQUET FOR HIS NEW SONGS Respected Texas singer-songwriter feeds his creative passion with cohesive body of work Texas country singer-songwriter Max Stalling pens tunes that connect, songs that form a snapshot of his life, songs that make an album. Five years after his last record, 2010’s relaxed honky-tonking opus Home to You, Stalling felt compelled to mold a full-length record. One-off singles are great, he admits, but there is such artistic strength in a cohesive body of work. Enter Banquet, Stalling’s sixth studio album, which is set for an early fall release on his longtime imprint Blind Nello Records. Produced by A-list Texas music helmsman Lloyd Maines and recorded at The Zone in Dripping Springs, Banquet boasts 11 tracks played by Jason Steinsultz on bass, Tom Lewis on drums, Bryce Clarke on guitar and mandolin, Heather Stalling (Max’s wife) on fiddle, Maines on steel guitar, and Stalling himself on guitar and lead vocals. The project was engineered by Pat Manske. In many ways Banquet is quintessential Max Stalling – a batch of uncluttered, melodic, beautifully played vignettes about life, the oddities of the human condition, struggles, broken hearts, and even one titled “All the Way,” which is about “an existential discussion of the rarified condition of being,” Stalling wryly declares. He offers a pair of spirited covers, the Beatles’ “Two of Us” and Doug Sahm’s “Beautiful Texas Sunshine,” and co-writes with buddies Jason Boland and Mark David Manders on the lead track “Night’s Pay In My Boots.” Wife Heather, whom he married in 2007, is Stalling’s writing partner on “You’d Better Be.” Banquet is actually quite pivotal for Stalling. Like all true artists, the making of Banquet tested his mettle. He experienced writer’s block during the crafting of these songs, and he questioned whether the man he is now, a 48- year-old happily married stepfather, still has the same ardor he felt back in 1997 when he released his debut effort, Comfort In the Curves. One listen to Banquet reveals the clear answer – he unequivocally still has that same passion. Yet Stalling has certainly earned the right to not only take his time between releases, but also reevaluate his artistic prowess. He consistently plays at least 150 shows a year all over Texas – Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Amarillo, Ft. Worth, Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Grapevine, Galveston, Austin, Luckenbach, Gruene – and occasionally ventures to surrounding states. He’s steadfastly cemented himself as an important and respected regional singer-songwriter with a deeply loyal following. Songs are top priority. Stalling aims to give his songs an outlet to live, breathe and coalesce. On Banquet stellar cuts include “No One Else But Lonely,” a classic, broken hearted country ballad; “Smaller Place,” his jovial ode to small town life; “Convenient Lovers,” a dialogue between two interested if uncommitted paramours that features fiery vocals by Andie Kay Joyner of blacktopGYPSY; and “Little Apone,” a swinging number seemingly about the Sgt. Apone character from 1986’s Aliens, but with a whole lot more to say. “This song is supposed to exist and operate on two levels,” Stalling explains. “First, this is the back story of the character in Aliens. This is how Sgt. Apone grew up wanting to see the world, the universe. Secondly, the song is an exercise for a songwriter needing material and ideas for an impending recording project.” The tune’s bridge says it all: “Everybody wants to know what’s next and you’re standing there kind of perplexed…there’s an answer but it won’t come to mind.” Stalling always figured out his next move. The son of Hal and Jeanne Stalling, born in Crystal City, Texas, he is the youngest of six children. Stalling attended school in nearby Carrizo Springs. He would eventually venture to Texas A&M University where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science. In graduate school at A&M, Stalling had a roommate who owned a guitar. The instrument would prove to be Stalling’s future. After spending his adolescent and teenage years consumed with pop and rock hit-makers of the ‘70s and ‘80s such as AC/DC, ZZ Top, Journey, Billy Idol, Loverboy, The Cars, Cheap Trick, ELO, Boston and a slew of others, the college student was now writing poetry and observational prose. He picked up the guitar in 1990. “Somewhere about that time it occurred to me that I needed to stop consuming and start creating.” But Stalling wasn’t quite ready for sound checks and stages. He spent a decade working in the food industry, including five years as a research scientist developing new products for Frito-Lay in Plano. By 1991 Stalling had moved to Dallas. He didn’t know a soul and consequently felt disconnected, like an outsider. About two years later he ran across the ubiquitous public radio station KNON-FM, which led him to Adair’s Saloon, and the now-defunct Naomi’s Lounge and Three Teardrops Tavern. It was there that Stalling found his musical family. He soaked up the influential talents of Texas music legends Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt. He formed friendships with emerging Texas singer-songwriters Mark David Manders, Ed Burleson, Brian Burns, Tommy Alverson, Larry Joe Taylor and the late Ronny Spears. Stalling was now leading a double life. On the weekdays he was a devoted food scientist at Frito-Lay. On the weekends he was a budding Texas singer-songwriter. Max Stalling, the artist, was born. “Somewhere in there all of those elements came together,” he remembers. “I did it very quietly. I picked up the guitar and started writing songs. I had been piddling around with guitar and prose; it was those people and that scene that gave me real purpose and understanding of what could be.” In addition to the aforementioned Comfort In the Curves and Home to You, Stalling released 2000’s Wide Afternoon, 2002’s One of the Ways and 2007’s Topaz City. He has two live albums, 2006’s Sell-Out and 2009’s Live From the Granada. With each effort Stalling further hones his signature style, an amalgamation of traditional country, folk and Western swing with touches of classic rock, R&B and jazz. For him performing onstage and being an artist is all about having fans hear those songs he’s written. “I have always approached everything from that perspective – what is the best thing for these songs?” Max Stalling creates songs that fit together to form a snapshot in time. He fuels his muse with songs that connect, songs that relate his stories. “I love to write songs,” he says. “I’m fascinated with seeing them come to life. These songs are like my children. Songs are funny…you can literally think them into existence. A song comes from nothing, less than a blank piece of paper, and then, as if by magic, there is a song, something tangible and also intangible.” Banquet gives Stalling’s latest crop of songs a home. That’s a tuneful feast for everybody. By Mario Tarradell

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Average Rating : 0              Total Reviews: 104

Max Stalling  12/24/2007            
Great comeback CD for Max after "One Of The Ways". Not that his last studio album was all bad; it did, after all, give us "The Pila Song". But other than "Ain't Fallin' In Love", not much else to listen to on that one. Those are the only 2 songs from that album that made it onto my personal Max Stalling bootleg CD that I carry in my truck. Can't carry ALL my CD's with me, you know. "Topaz City" is a much better listen; the newest edition of my personal Max Stalling bootleg CD has 5 of his new songs, and could have had more if I could get more than 20 songs on a CD. "If Only The Good Die Young" is a great song, exactly what you'd expect from Max in the leadoff position. "Ping Pong, Pool" is a song I really don't want to like, but I can't help it. I guess I like the fact that Max seems to know how to make white gravy without using Pioneer mix. The more I listen to "Skyview Cabaret", the more I like it, even though it confuses me. I initially thought it was about a senile old man, now I'm not so sure. Guess I've got a short attention span. "Don't Fall Alone" is a great toe tapper, I'll be singing along with it as soon as I memorize the words. Which brings us to the creme de la creme, "Goodnight Never Meant Goodbye". It's replaced "The Pila Song" [which replaced "These Reminders" (which replaced "The Rock Song")] as my favorite Max Stalling song; I've played it over and over, I think it will be my first release if I ever learn how to sing and get a recording contract. If there's one thing I'm disappointed in with this album, it's that I was hoping for a studio version of "6x9 Speakers". No such luck. For the record, a couple of the songs on my bootleg CD came off compilation albums and aren't on any of his own CD's. Max's versions of "El Paso" and "The Rodeo Song" are good listens; I can't remember what music service I downloaded them from, but they were both well worth the buck.
Max Stalling  12/09/2007            
I like how he accomplishes a clean and crisp sound; he doesnt have to smoke and drink his voice into a nasty rasp in order to sound genuine. Great voice and amazing songwriter.
Max Stalling  09/01/2007            
Max is the poet laureate of the Wild Horse Desert (South Texas, for those of you unfamiliar with Texas geography). He can definitely turn a phrase (check out "Time's Hand in Your Pocket" from Comfort in the Curves.) Maybe his lyrics are too cerebral for some to "get it", but he's definitely TEXAS.
Max Stalling  08/23/2007            
Chad H
Wow! Max is my Elvis!! He always comes out with the best music and is even better on stage. Thank you, Max!! Chad
Max Stalling  08/16/2007            
J Cov
Another great album by one of the greatest Texas Music artist of the time. Great tunes, great story telling. Deffinately lives up to the "Smooth" Max Stalling we all know and love. A must add to your collection, like all of his previous albums!
Max Stalling  08/03/2007            
I love Max! I follow him up and down I-35 and catch him playing anywhere I can. This new release was well worth the wait. If you don't think this album has any references to Texas you are plain crazy. Topaz City is actually a reference to Crystal City his home town and he says so at every show. If you don't think this one is as good or better than the rest... You don't know Max.
Max Stalling  08/02/2007            
Anyone thinks this CD is not FANTASTIC, knows nothing about music. It is fantastic!!! What is cool about Max is that he has his own unique style. His lyrics and story telling are second to no one. Who cares if the word "Texas" is mentioned. The music is certainly rooted in Texas. ANOTHER A+ FOR THE MOST UNDERAPPRECIATED TEXAS TALENT!!!
Max Stalling  07/03/2007            
Max has never put out anything but a 5-star album... Until now. I realize that Max's music is "maturing" but this album lacks a lot of what I listen to Max to hear. Some of us like the more raw, down-home feel of his prior music. Where are the Texas references? I understand wanting to appeal to a broader audience by being geographically vague, but those of us that appreciate local music do so because we can relate. Some of that's gone in this new album. The lyrics on this one are as insightful as in the past, but some of the songs feel like they may have been rushed. A sad thought given the time frame since his last release. Lastly, where is '6x9 Speakers'? I’d really love to hear how that could be translated into a studio version. Additionally, it would have added some much-needed faster pace to the album. Topaz City was a slight disappointment, possibly only because I hold Max’s work in such high regard. However, it's still Max and it's still better than 99% of the Texas "music" out there.
Max Stalling  06/28/2007            
Totally Texas Max Music! Great lyrics, song list, and production!
Max Stalling  06/26/2007            
Heard lots of the new material in Helotes the other night, the new material sounds great. Another great CD from Max
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