Chris Stapleton – Traveller (2015)
Rodney Crowell and Graham Greene have both voiced a dirty secret of writers: To write what you want, you’ve got to write what you need to pay the bills. Chris Stapleton stuck his boot in the Nashville door penning safe radio hits for Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney et al and earned his performing stripes in a bluegrass band and later in a southern rock outfit.
The real Chris Stapleton is more subversive, it emerges via his first solo album. The bluesy grooves and (blue-eyed) soul voice hint at the pioneering country of Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds and his writing the harsh introspection of Waylon Jennings.
Charles and Waylon have no equals. But Nashville could do with more of their kind than the people Stapleton was writing for.