A smooth voice with a husky tinge is what graces my ears when listening to Chris Stapleton. This album showcases Chris’ solo artistry and shows that he is clearly ready to make it on his own, moving away from writing hit singles for other country artists such as Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan and Tim Mcgraw.
Chris made his TV debut with his song Traveller as one of the last musical guests featured on the ‘Late Show’ with USA talk show legend David Letterman. Letterman makes a quick comment after the performance saying he thought it was “lovely”, and for me, this really is the word that sums up the essence of the whole album. It also sounds very “new”. This seems to be very intentional, as in interviews with various news sources Chris says that he believes there is more artistry in trying to be original rather than chasing another style that is “popular”. The whole inspiration for the album was formed after the loss of his father and while he was on a road trip pondering his path in life. His father is honoured in the album on the track Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore.
Traveller is the first track on the album and it’s a real smooth, soothing number. The backing vocals really flesh out the texture and it sets the tone for the whole album. Fire away continues along the smooth sounding path whilst the slower tempo in 3/4 makes it a slow type of waltz.
Tennessee Whiskey has a romantic vibe which is cross between George Michael’s Careless Whisper and Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. Whereas the next track Parachute has an almost oriental feel, especially in the intro and instrumental sections, which is mainly due to the sliding grace notes. Whiskey And You has a real bare bones texture which is nearly completely solo voice, only with a touch of guitar in the background. Out of all the songs I found this the most powerful. This type of minimal texture has the potential to feel awkward, but actually works incredibly well!
An old western mood is created in Nobody To Blame and the lyrics seem to convey the message of taking responsibility for yourself. The romantic vibe returns in More of You, reinforced by the woman on the backing vocals. The brushes used on the drums gives the song a grey type of colour and really adds to its ambience. The guitars are also very dry, making them sound almost ukelele like. After this you have when the stars come out which along side traveller highlights the life pondering feel of the album. The harmonica in Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore really exposes the loneliness feeling which is inherent to life in general and then you have Might As Well Get Stoned, which echoes someone who has simply given up on life, something that reoccurs in Was It 26. The loneliness theme returns in the Devil Named Music and Once Again, the harmonica is used. Outlaw State of Mind shows Chris’ husky side when he reaches the higher dynamics and pitches, something that reminds me of Gavin Degraw’s song I don’t want to be, and then finally you have Sometimes I Cry, the blues feel is really strong here and as the title suggests, it’s a sad song.
2. Fire Away
3. Tennessee Whiskey
5. Whiskey and You
6. Nobody to Blame
7. More of You
8. When The Stars Come Out
9. Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore
10. Might As Well Get Stoned
11. Was It 26
12. The Devil Named Music
13. Outlaw State of Mind
14. Sometimes I Cry
The whole album feels very personal and it seems like Chris is singing directly to you. It’s a highly enjoyable listen and an album with a contemplative slant, giving home to the nostalgic type. The lyrics are generally related to life, its troubles and how we’re drifting through it. His “new” sound is very refreshing but the tone is still on the sombre side and warrants a certain type of mood to be fully appreciated.
Traveller, Whiskey and You
Six Shooter Rating
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