Chris Stapleton has released his debut studio album, Traveller, via Mercury Nashville. The 14 track, 63 minute album was produced by Dave Cobb and Chris Stapleton.
Musicians on the album include Chris Stapleton (acoustic / electric guitars, mandolin, lead vocals), J.T. Cure (upright bass), Michael Webb (organ, piano, mellotron), Robby Turner (pedal steel guitar), Derek Mixon (drums, percussion), Dave Cobb (acoustic guitar, percussion), Mickey Raphael (harmonica), and Morgane Hayes-Stapleton (background vocals). The LP features 12 songs that Stapleton either wrote or co-wrote, with two covers (George Jones' "Tennessee Whiskey" and Don Sampson's "Was It 26").
Great songwriting and musicianship throughout make this a 5-star album. Every track is good in its own way, but the first half of the record might overdo it with Whiskey references and lack a little creativity. Personally, I like the 2nd side more. My favorite songs on Traveller are "Outlaw State Of Mind," "Might As Well Get Stoned," "Was It 26," "Fire Away," "The Devil Named Music," "Sometimes I Cry," "Nobody To Blame," "More Of You," "When The Stars Come Out," and the opening track, "Traveller."
In an interview with Billboard, Chris spoke of his inspiration for Traveller:
I lost my dad in October 2013 and did a little bit of soul-searching. My wife was kind enough to buy me an old Jeep. We flew out to Phoenix and drove it all the way back to Nashville through the desert. I thought a lot about music and my dad, and the things that he would have liked that I should be doing. Out of that, I actually wrote the song "Traveller" driving down Interstate 40 through New Mexico. That became the cornerstone for the record and wound up being the title track. My wife dug in deep on my catalog of songs, and we met with Brian Wright at the label. He helped me sift through the songs a little bit more, played some things for Dave, and decided to cut six songs. We called Brian right up and asked him to listen to the sides and kept on going, and the record that you hear is what happened.
Stapleton also talked about what it was like working with producer Dave Cobb:
Genius is the best way to describe him. Beyond that, he's a wonderful being, and it's great to have him around in the studio. He's always a joy to be around and makes everything he touches better for sure. I just can't imagine making this record without him. I don't think it would be anything close to what it is.
Stapleton's debut comes at a time when good old fashioned organic country music crossed tastefully with folk, soul, rock, and bluegrass seems to be trending. Traveller is a remarkable debut, and hopefully foreshadows more great stuff to come from Stapleton in the future.
Pick up Traveller on Amazon. You can also stream the full album above, via Spotify.
For the latest music, news, and tour dates from Chris Stapleton, check out his Zumic artist page.