5 or 6 years ago, Sheryl Crow played one of my favorite small venues in Nashville, 3rd and Lindsley, to get ready for her summer tour. Ellie and I, along with Nate Dugger and some other friends, went to the show to see her in such an intimate space. The opener was a guy none of us had heard of named Chris Stapleton.
Honestly, the bar was incredibly chatty as he sang a solo acoustic set. There are a ton of songwriters in Nashville, folks who write for country, pop, and christian artists who might not write their own music. The only chatter was that this Chris guy was a songwriter in town who Sheryl loved. Even then though, if you could hear through the drunken bar chatter, was a singular voice.
Traveller is probably my favorite album of the last year. I think it will be a classic, like Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey or Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger. Its a record that made with complete abandon to anything other than Chris’ vision to record his songs honestly, simply, and courageously.
Picking a favorite song would be impossible. “Fire Away” for the sheer monstrosity of the vocal performance. “Whiskey and You” for the haunting story, space and heartache. “Traveller” for the roll your windows and throw your phone out the window vibe. And of course the incredible resurrection of George Jones, “Tennessee Whiskey” which should help anyone fall in love all over again.
It is rare that the popular imagination and thoughtful artistry line up. The success of this album in the mainstream goes to show that you every once in while, everyone gets it right. We are honored and thankful to get to add this timeless record to the Magnolia Record Club.