He may only just have released his debut album, but Kentucky-born country artist Chris Stapleton is no newbie to the music scene. He released his first single way back in 2006, and has since written songs for a vast catalogue of artists, including British soul singer Adele. Since Winning 3 awards at the 2015 CMA’s, Stapleton has firmly solidified himself as a massive country music contender. And his album Traveller is built, like many of the best country records, on deep rooted feelings of pain, loss, impermanence – and whiskey.
From the very first song, and title track of the record, Stapleton lures you in with his inviting rasps, wrapped up in an envelope of gritty yet wispy harmonies. The traditional blues tones of this track provide the ideal opener for an album that skirts the genres borders on its quest towards modernising and revamping country music. Songs such as Whiskey And Me, and Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore are pivotal in demonstrating the skill in Stapleton’s intricate songwriting, as he pulls you into his experiences with soft wails of heartache. He often pairs this with minimalistic chords and resonating guitar slides that give his songs a simplistically powerful edge.
Parachute is the only fast paced song on the record, and delivers with a passionate intensity somehow reminiscent of early Sting. Tennessee Whiskey is a reworked cover of the classic country song by George Jones. And though Stapleton recently gave a well accomplished live performance of this song with R&B legend Justin Timberlake, it is solo on record where Stapleton really comes into his own, elevating the song with a captivatingly raw vocal display, over something otherwise musically sparse.
Traveller is an album that was highly sought after, long before it even existed. And now that it has arrived, with his window-shattering yet fine tuned powerhouse vocals, awe-inspiring songwriting and all-round craftsmanship, Chris Stapleton is going to have a hard time continuing to skirt around the shadows of the limelight.