Chris Stapleton will release one of country music’s most anticipated albums on May 5th when his debut LP Traveller his stores. Last night, the singer-songwriter with the huge voice — and the beard to match — performed the title track on the Late Show With David Letterman.
Backed by his wife and collaborator Morgane, whose mission to purchase her husband a vintage Jeep Cherokee led to a cross-country road trip that inspired the album, Stapleton let loose the pipes that have made him one of the most in-demand vocalists in Nashville. He’s provided harmonies on songs like Thomas Rhett’s funky new single “Crash and Burn” and Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer,” both of which Stapleton co-wrote. At Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards, he’s nominated in the Song of the Year category for “Drink a Beer.”
But with Traveller, Stapleton’s voice will be front and center, and he’s anxious for fans to hear his take on traditional country, exemplified by the steel-driven title track.
“I had head-clearing time and I wrote the song ‘Traveller’ during that trip in my head,” Stapleton tells Rolling Stone Country, recalling his drive through the American southwest with his wife. “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.”
The album was produced by Dave Cobb, the increasingly busy mastermind behind Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and Jason Isbell’s Southeastern. Stapleton says he and Cobb instantly hit upon a common ground in the studio.
“We 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,” he says. “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.”
Stapleton will open for Eric Church on April 30th in Boston before launching his own club tour with a pair of shows May 8th and 9th in Nashville.