My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Chris Stapleton – ‘Traveller’

imagesUpon learning that Chris Stapleton had penned a solo deal with Mercury, I assumed that the resulting album would be an eclectic and decidedly non-commercial one in the Americana vein – the sort of thing I like to listen to occasionally for a change of pace but not on a regular basis. Now that Traveller has finally been released I have to say that it comes as a somewhat of a surprise — and a pleasant one at that. While he does cover a number of musical styles, it is a much more polished affair than what I was expecting. Afew years ago it would have been considered a mainstream effort, though Stapleton’s voice is a bit too rough to enjoy widespread commercial success in any era.

Produced by Dave Cobb, Traveller consists of a generous 14 tracks, twelve of which were written or co-written by Stapleton. Among the two that he didn’t write are a bluesy cover of “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Was It 26”, a Don Sampson composition that sounds like it would have been at home on Jamey Johnson’s That Lonesome Song album. Although his rendition of “Tennessee Whiskey” isn’t quite in alignment with my taste, Stapleton deserves credit for putting his own stamp on the song rather than doing a note-for-note reproduction of George Jones’ classic 1983 recording.

Longtime readers will not be surprised to hear that my favorite tracks are the more country-leaning ones. I particularly liked the stripped-down “Whiskey and You”, “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore”, and “Nobody To Blame” which sounds like a rediscovered Travis Tritt recording from the 90s. The album’s best track is “More of You” a beautiful mandolin-laced ballad which features a harmony vocalist that sounds a lot like Emmylou Harris. I’m a little less enthusiastic about the Southern rock numbers “Parachute”, “Might As Well Get Stoned” and “Outlaw State of Mind”, although I can’t actually say that I didn’t enjoy these songs.

I don’t expect Traveller to spawn any big radio hits but I think it’s one of those albums that might sell well despite a lack of airplay. I certainly hope so because it deserves to be heard.

Grade: A

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5 responses to “Album Review: Chris Stapleton – ‘Traveller’

  1. Occasional Hope May 14, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    I don’t love all of it, but the best is very good indeed.

  2. Pingback: Occasional Hope’s top 10 singles of 2015 | My Kind of Country

  3. Pingback: Occasional Hope’s top 10 albums of 2015 | My Kind of Country

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  5. Annette Kinney December 30, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    I’ll say this about Chris. I live in California and his only west coast tour stop is Seattle in 2017 and I’m seriously considering traveling there to see him live. Favorite is Fire Away and More of You is beautiful.
    Great voice. Also like very much The Devil Named Music and Sometimes I Cry. Has a sad bluesy sound.

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