The singer-songwriter’s television debut had Stapleton harmonize with his wife on his new single, “Traveller.”
Chris Stapleton’s vintage country sound is a breath of fresh air for Nashville. He recalls hitmakers of the 1980s and 1990s like Kenny Rogers and Ronnie Milsap; his feathered cowboy hat, Duck Dynasty beard and snakeskin boots are just bonuses to his no-frills, back-to-basics music. Stapleton recently made his network television debut on the Late Show With David Letterman to perform his upcoming debut record’s titular track in “Traveller”, a gorgeous pedal steel-heavy ode to being in love with the road.
Traveller, out May 5, is the grizzled songwriter’s debut album, and it’s already garnered major anticipation in country circles. Even Letterman himself was psyched after the performance (a rarity under most circumstances, but especially when a country artist takes the stage), exclaiming, “Oh my gosh… lovely, huh? … Fantastic. That’s tremendous.” The album was inspired by Stapleton’s wife Morgane’s quest to buy him a vintage Jeep Cherokee, which naturally led to the two partaking in a cross-country road trip.
Despite his stellar songwriting skills, Stapleton’s voice is the heart of his music. He’s contributed backing vocals to recent hits like Thomas Rhett‘s “Crash and Burn” and Luke Bryan‘s “Drink a Beer”, both of which he also co-wrote – and the latter of which grabbed him an ACM nomination for Song of the Year. But Traveller will finally give this behind-the-scenes man a chance at the spotlight.
On that road trip with his wife, driving through the American Southwest gave Stapleton “head-clearing time,” he said about the title track in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I wrote the song ‘Traveller’ during that trip in my head. It says a lot about life and how we’re all passing through it. That’s where that song came from and it works on a number of levels. It’s going to mean something to different people. You give someone a title, it’s always a scary thing, but more and more it felt like a way to open the record.”
Traveller was produced by Dave Cobb, whose traditionalist touch can also be found on Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds In Country Music and Jason Isbell’s Southeastern. Cobb is clearly on a crusade to return country to its sonic roots, and judging by “Traveller”, he and Stapleton make an excellent pair. “[Stapleton and I] have a love of outlaw country things and soul music and old R&B. We have very similar tastes in that way and we think about music the same way, which is the biggest strength between us,” Cobb recently told Rolling Stone. “We approach music in trying to do the best thing, and not hold it up to something else or sound like something else. We’re just trying to find something that we think is cool and go with that.”
Traveller hits stores on May 5, and Stapleton is touring all summer – check out his dates on his website.