Chris Stapleton's new album ranks among the most-anticipated records of 2017. And yet, we don't really know a whole lot about it. The 10-year "overnight success" story rightfully toured his album Traveller for much of 2015 and all of 2016.
He charted an astonishing seven songs from his first record. Those include "Parachute," "Traveller" and "Fire Away." He only scored one No. 1 with "Tennessee Whiskey." But he landed plenty of airplay, including from independent radio stations playing his songs simply cause they loved them.
But now we're all chomping at the bit for the new record. Here's what we know so far.
He's releasing two records this year
To most fans, this represents album number two. But Stapleton shouldn't worry about the dreaded "sophomore slump" (the concept that the second record is a critical and commercial letdown compared to a hugely successful debut album). That's because he's released way more than two albums.
In fact, this isn't even *technically* his second album on Mercury Nashville. He signed with the major label in 2013 and recorded a full album. But the label never released it after its first single, "What Are You Listening To?," underperformed on radio (at the height of bro country, of course).
He also released an independent album in 2010 with his rock band The Jompson Brothers. Prior to that, he released two well-received records as frontman for the group The Steeldrivers. So while this will look like solo record No. 2 on iTunes, Stapleton already has a steady catalog behind him.
Your guess is as good as ours! First record Traveller borrowed the title from a song title, which is pretty traditional. So don't be surprised if that's the case with this album as well. And of course, we also don't know anything about the cover artwork.
The Release Date
Here's where it gets interesting: we know when it's coming out. Stapleton says the album drops May 5, 2017. Which is kind of cool, considering that is the two-year anniversary of his surprise success Traveller releasing as well.
And that means it's also just over a month away. So Stapleton and company are keeping this one close to the chest, because most major releases we know quite a few details at this point in the game. Heck, even Jason Isbell told us the name of his new album releasing June 16 (The Nashville Sound) and released a lyric video ("Hope The High Road").
In terms of country music, the only other album releasing on May 5 so far is Colt Ford's Hope Faith. Which means Stapleton has the inside track to a No. 1 album that week in country. And quite probably, a No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart overall.
Again, mums the word. But we can safely assume Stapleton at least co-produced the record. He co-produced his debut album alongside Dave Cobb. At the time, Cobb's star was rising. Now, he's surely one of the most in-demand producers in the world.
Cobb also produced Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Whiskey Myers, Holly Williams and many more.
Stapleton began playing a few new songs on the road in 2016. One in particular stuck out as a fan favorite and made the list nearly every night. "Hard Living" is a driving tune that feels right out of Waylon Jennings' rockin' outlaw days. And honestly, it's a pretty good name for an album title (if he's still looking).
Now, there's no guarantee this tune makes the album. Stapleton and friends have been known to jam out whatever they feel like. But it sure seems like a slam dunk.
He also recently shared a song called "Broken Halos." He called it a "sort of" new song, but an old song for him. Who knows, this one may make it on the record too.
I can safely speak for most Stapleton fans when I say we hope those two make the album. But either way, he's clearly got some good tunes in store.
So that's what we know about Chris Stapleton's new album so far. When we've got more to share, we certainly will!