Chris Stapleton is now a household name. This should have happened a long time ago. After cleaning up at the Country Music Awards, Stapleton showcased his outstanding voice in a duet with Justin Timberlake. He stole the show, both in hardware and in talent.
In no time, his debut country music album, Traveller, rocketed up the charts. As I write this, it is #3 at Amazon.com.
Stapleton has been around for a while. Most people have heard at least a few of his songs, as he has written for Adelle, Josh Turner, Tim McGraw and many other country and pop music icons. Stapleton, however, was more than an obscure songwriter. He was honing both his songwriting skills and his musical chops in a bluegrass band called the Steeldrivers, and a Southern rock outfit named The Jompson Brothers. I have written on this blog about the Jompson Brothers, a group that in my opinion was and is the best Southern rock band around today. They only produced one album, and Stapleton promised me on Twitter that there would be another. That will probably have to wait now.
I met Stapleton at the Cutbait Music Festival in Columbus, GA in 2013. He did an early set and no one knew who he was. I was there to see Shooter Jennings and Damon Johnson, but Stapleton had me hooked. He stayed to chat for nearly two hours after his show was over shaking hands and talking with folks.
I asked him were he was from and he said, “Nashville.” I then said, “No, where are you from,” and he smiled and said “Kentucky.” His wife was also there with him (she is his backup singer), and I remember them walking away long after dark arm in arm with a box of CDs and T-shirts to his own vehicle. Shooter Jennings retired to his tour bus. How times have changed. Stapleton is a humble family man worthy of all that is being thrown his way right now.
Traveller is a superb album. The title track is a great mellow country tune, and while it was his single, it is nowhere near as good as the rest of the record. Traditional country; check. Listen to “The Devil Named Music,” “Outlaw State of Mind,” “Might As Well Get Stoned,” and “Nobody to Blame.” Blues; check. See “Sometimes I Cry” and “Whiskey and You.” Pop/rock; check. “Parachute” and “Fire Away,” fit that bill. And then there are the cover tunes, George Jones’s “Tennessee Whiskey” which sounds like it came straight from Muscle Shoals recording studio and Charlie Daniels’s “Was it 26.” There is not one bad tune on the album. Stapleton called it the story of his life in music, from his days playing bars to his family, it is like watching his life unfold in song. I don’t disagree.
I bought the album when it first came out in May. Now everyone knows who he is and what he is listening to.
If you have not heard the album, you should go out and buy it now. You won’t be disappointed. I can honestly say I knew Chris Stapleton when. I hope for many more masterful efforts from the best voice and songwriter in country music today.
Here are a few samples from the album. Enjoy!