Last night at the Country Music Awards, long-time songwriter, first-time solo album victor Chris Stapleton cleaned the fuck up. For his excellent debut Traveller, he took home the prestigious Album Of The Year award, Best Male Vocalist and Best New Artist. The verdict is clear: We want more solo records from Stapleton. Anyway, word trickled down that Stapleton would be performing alongside Justin Timberlake at the show. At first this seemed like just another weird pop/country award show performance amalgam, but now it seems clear that the CMAs were trying to guarantee Stapleton some more exposure via that Timberlake tip. Also, the fact that JT is a Memphis native who actually does have a background in roots music meant that their countrified rendition of “Drink You Away” totally ruled.
Clearly, their version of “Tennessee Whiskey” was far superior, but that’s because it’s a much better song to start off with. Try watching Stapleton sing about how liquor used to be his only love while staring with devotion directly at his wife Morgane without your skin erupting in goosebumps.
You can’t, right? Me either. Expect to see Stapleton held up as the new but-he’s-actually-good country poster child in the Kacey Musgraves tradition. Spoiler alert: he is good, but there’s plenty more underrated country singer/songwriters who are good, too.
Traveller is out now via Mercury Records Nashville.