For years now, the long-awaited solo album from country music songwriter Chris Stapleton has been like the White Whale of albums to informed country music listeners who pay attention liner notes and have seen his compositions being cut by some of the biggest, and most important names in the country music world and beyond. Stapleton is not a hit writer, he’s the songwriter artists turn to when they want their record to score a gut punch, yet some of have songs have gone on to become hits from their sheer strength.
Meanwhile other fans remember Stapleton from his days in the bluegrass band The SteelDrivers. Stapleton was a member of the band from around 2008 until 2010 when he announced he was leaving to focus more on raising his family. Stapleton also plays in a rock and roll project called The Jompson Brothers. After signing to the influential Nashville outfit Sea Gayle Music, he’s scored some 150 recorded songs and counting from artists as far ranging as Vince Gill to Adele.
Beyond his songwriting, Stapleton’s solo sets are things of shiver-inducing magic, and his shows regularly result in scores of apostles helping to spread the word about Stapleton’s talents both on the stage, and behind-the-scenes as a songwriter. But he debut album has been so elusive, it has almost become a thing of myth over the past few years. Stapleton signed to Mercury Nashville back in 2013 as a solo artist, and even released a debut single “What Are You Listening To” that year. Subsequently though, the Stapleton album has been been sitting in what seemed like perpetual limbo…until now.
Announced Friday (1-23), Chris Stapleton’s Traveller will be released on May 5th via Mercury Nashville. Not a ton of details have been divulged just yet, aside from the album will be swampy, with a lot of Outlaw Country influences, as well as old soul, and is being produced by Dave Cobb—arranged after Stapleton heard Sturgill Simpson’s latest record. If you notice in the teaser video below, the background is Nashville’s legendary Studio ‘A’, and the guy playing guitar at the 11 second mark is Dave Cobb. Stapleton also held a listening event in Nashville on 1-22, where members of the media were allowed to listen in on a recording session at Studio ‘A’.
Stapleton’s work as a songwriter has seen him rub elbows with all sectors of the country music world, including some of the more commercially-minded projects. But his solo work has always been very informed by Southern rock with shades of traditional country, and earnest songwriting. For many, May 5th can not get here quick enough.