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  03/12/2003            
Having moved from San Antonio where Max isn't on the radio to Fort Worth where they play Max on KHYI all the time, I had to buy a CD. I love his rich voice and played the CD all day. I'm back to Lone Star to buy more MAX! Can't wait to see him live in a local honkey tonk. Thanks KHYI 95.3, The Range.
Max Stalling  02/03/2003            
If you like acoustic based story songs, then COMFORT IN THE CURVES is the ONE. In this day and age it is hard to find any cd of any kind that has 12 killer cuts on it. This one does. Any one of them could be a top hit. Max is my favorite of all the Texas Honky Tonkers. Get the word out, he is great.
Max Stalling  01/07/2003            
the song aint fallin in love with you tonight is top notch. This CD (Album, collection of songs if you will) is terrific
Max Stalling  12/11/2002            
Max is my favorite country singer. He has a good taste of Mexican guitar in his music that makes him a little different than the rest of the Texas Country that is out there. He doesnt have any "gimic" songs, and that is always a relief. This is the perfect music for white rock road driving.
Max Stalling  11/16/2002            
Pick an album -- Max Stalling is absolutely the best singer songwriter in this or any other state. From his trip down I35 in Comfort in the Curves to the saga of Dime Box TX and Wide Afternoons, Max tells it like it is or, at least, like we wish it was. Buy it now and see him live if if you get the chance.
Max Stalling  10/24/2002            
All that has to be said is that Max writes the words and plays the music that echoes Texas Music. The songs are balanced wonderfully between the old country classics of Merle, Johnny and Willie with timeless themes and perfect delivery. "Tadpoles & Eagles", i don't think you'll ever see this title anywhere else!
Max Stalling  10/22/2002            
With "One of the Ways," singer-songwriter Max Stalling has not only proven his staying power in the music business, but his ability to rise to the top. "One of the Ways," is his most personal chronicle to date, and the introspective writing that Stalling exudes in every song shows a more artistic side not seen as frequently on his first two releases. His use of different writing styles, rhyme schemes, and delivery of lines create a groove that follows perfectly with the gentle production of Bruce Robison. The instrumentation of the record provides Stalling with a perfect background to deliver his poignant lyrics and touching narratives. Standing out on the record is track 10, "Probably Corsicana." In the song, Stalling chronicles the weariness and second guessing that a traveling musician faces in taking his music to the people..."Why does it always have to be the way it goes/You're dying of thirst or drinking from a firehose/I guess it's like love or religion in that it's about keeping faith." These lines hauntily echo the trials faced both physically and mentally while on the road. The lyrics and production on "Probably Corsicana" make it feel as though it is the sequel to Jackson Browne's monumental "Running On Empty" record. Scanning the rest of "One of The Ways," listeners will find themselves lost in the narrative love tale of "Lying Here at Three," a simple tune about being hopelessly distracted by someone who has stolen your heart and wanting nothing more than to wrap yourself in their world. On this tune, the warm and wonderful Bruce Robison feel can definately be felt throughout the song. The last track on the record, "The Girl By The Lake," is a ballad seemingly straight from the pages of a Townes Van Zandt writing notebook. Tackling issues of trust, love, heartbreak and loss seem an easy task for Stalling, who handles this task with lyrical grace and deadly accuracy. Max Stalling shows, with "One of The Ways," that he has taken on the role of full time artist/songwriter and- with this role- he has proven that he is capable of creating words that touch. For fans of his earlier work, you will be completely enamored with his latest release; for anyone who has yet to discover this diamond in the rough, buy "One of the Ways" and let Max Stalling capture your mind with his descriptions of life.
Max Stalling  10/03/2002            
"One of the Ways" is his best work to date. Killer songwriting in a great package. Mr. Stalling, if you read this, please keep doing what you're doing.
Max Stalling  09/25/2002            
Table 7
Great songwriter and great performer period.
Max Stalling  09/16/2002            
You can't go wrong with any of Max's CD's. Some of the best song writing around, and add in his wonderful voice and you have a CD you will listen to again and again. Collect all three!
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