Kentucky-born singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton has enjoyed a very prolific career writing songs for other artists. Over the past 15 years he’s had his songs recorded by a host of big stars including Adele, Lee Ann Womack, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Josh Turner and Tim McGraw. Stapleton has a plethora of awards under his belt including several ASCAP Awards and three CMAs. With all of the success he’s enjoyed, it’s a wonder it’s taken him as long as it has to put himself in the spotlight. Following its critically acclaimed release in the US earlier this year, Stapleton has released his debut album Traveller.
Stapleton has written or co-written the majority of Traveller and for the record he fuses country, soul and blues to craft a sound that is far removed from the mainstream Country sound of the moment. Recently Stapleton performed his song Tennessee Whiskey on the CMAs with Justin Timberlake causing the album to rocket back into the Billboard 200 and land at number 1. It’s not really any surprise as Stapleton is an artist that demands to be heard by the masses and will likely appeal to fans of all genres of music.
The album opens with the title track, which is a breezy number about Stapleton’s journey through life as he pursues his music and lives out his dreams. In the hands of anyone else the song could sound perhaps a little clichéd but with Stapleton’s incredibly powerful husky voice it holds much more weight. In fact it’s Stapleton’s voice that really steals the spotlight across the whole album. Regardless of what he’s singing about Stapleton sings straight from his soul and he fills every word with such meaning and emotion it’s impossible not to get swept along for the ride.
Tennessee Whiskey is one of the early standouts on the album with its bluesy beat and goose-pimple inducing vocal. It’s one of several songs on the record that talks about alcohol and recreational use of marijuana. Nobody to Blame sees Stapleton taking responsibility for his choices, discusses his lapsed religious beliefs on Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore, and sings of the appeal of getting stoned while being bored and out of drink on Might As Well Get Stoned.
Elsewhere on the album Stapleton sounds incredible on the stripped back Whiskey and You, unleashes his inner bad boy on Outlaw State of Mind, and delivers raw soul on album closer Sometimes I Cry. One of our favourite moment comes on the soulful blues of The Devil Named Music.
Traveller is one of those records that comes along incredibly rarely and it’s one that will make Stapleton an international superstar. He was recently announced as one of the main stage acts for 2016’s C2C: Country To Country and we suspect that his involvement will be a huge draw for the festival. Traveller is an album rich with stories, melodies and incredible vocals that you simply have to hear.