By Erin Duvall
Traveller is one of those albums you hear and you know that it’s real. It’s coming from a real place in someone’s life and the lyrics and emotions are real to you as well. Behind it all is Chris Stapleton‘s soulful and strong voice coupled with his genuine songwriting.
The singer-songwriter performed as a member of bluegrass band the SteelDrivers for years, before trying his hand at the solo country life. For most of the world, the Traveller album came out of obscurity overnight. In reality, Chris Stapleton has been a mainstay in Nashville for years, writing hit after hit for some the city’s biggest names. “Your Man,” by Josh Turner, “Never Wanted Nothing More” by Kenny Chesney, “Drink a Beer” by Luke Bryan and “Crash and Burn” by Thomas Rhett are all Stapleton cuts.
Traveller was born from personal tragedy, as Stapleton found inspiration in a road trip he took following his father’s death. He pays tribute to his father in the album’s heartbreaking and haunting, “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore.” While road trip themes can be scene in “The Devil Named Music,” which chronicles the struggle musicians face between following their dreams and loving their families, and the album’s autobiographical title track.
The album covers a range of human emotions. “Was it 26” is a song of regret as Stapleton recalls a year of personal turmoil and his unlikely survival. “Tennessee Whiskey” is a country standard that Stapleton breathes new life into, as the Kentucky native compares a love to “the good stuff.”
The album takes a gentle turn, both musically and lyrically, with “More of You” as the 37-year-old tells a sweet tale of love. On the flip side, “Nobody to Blame” tells the tale of a love gone wrong, with the singer taking responsibility for the actions that turned his life into a country song.
But it’s the album’s final cut that is a perfect summation of the entire project. “Sometimes I Cry” is vulnerable but sang by a strong, unearthly voice. It’s inspiring but tragic. It’s an honest account of the human experience. A perfect ending to an instant classic album, and one that deserves to win the GRAMMY for Album of the Year.
See who wins the GRAMMY for Album of the Year when the big show beams out live from the Staples Center on February 15th at 8 PM (ET) on CBS.