Chris Stapleton skyrocketed to fame after his huge CMA night in 2015. His smash performance with Justin Timberlake coupled with his surprise wins pushed Stapleton to the forefront of everyone’s minds. Stapleton’s debut solo album, Traveller, was one of 2015’s most lauded albums, and continues to hold a place on the charts and be talked about. As far as the majority of mainstream music fans are concerned, Stapleton was an overnight star that just came out of nowhere, but to those of us who are attuned to the whole genre, shadows and all, we knew different. Stapleton has been in the music business for over a decade, both as a songwriter and an artist.
As a songwriter, Stapleton has written over 150 songs and has six #1’s to his credit, including Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More”, George Strait’s “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright”, and Darius Rucker’s “Come Back Song”. As an artist, Stapleton served as the frontman of The SteelDrivers from 2008 to 2010, before going solo. So far, the Traveller era has earned Stapleton 10 awards, including Album of the year, Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year at the 2016 ACMs, Album of the Year at the 2015 CMAs, and Best Country Album at the 2016 Grammy’s.
Stapleton’s “Traveller” and “Nobody To Blame” reached, respectively, #17 and #13 on the charts. “Tennessee Whiskey” hit #1 following the Chris’ CMA performance. Even with all the buzz, Stapleton still has a hard time getting airplay on mainstream radio. He isn’t alone though, there is a whole class of people who have released superb albums and songs, yet still can’t get radio’s attention. Ashley Monroe, Kacey Musgraves, and Lindi Ortega are just a few examples of artists who have released solid albums in the last year yet still struggle to get radio’s (and in return, the associations’) attention.
Stapleton recently announced that “Parachute” would be his next single from Traveller. I for one was thrilled at the news as “Parachute” is my favorite song on the record, with “Nobody To Blame” coming in at second place. The song has a driving, infectious melody featuring a mandolin like you’ve never heard it before. This is one you’ll be tapping your foot along to while singing along. Chris’ soulful grit shines on this single, proving once and for all that he’s country to the core, no matter what he sings. The lyrical content is the real gem in this single, highlighting Stapleton’s creative prowess. It’s a song that grabs you with its production/sound, and holds you with its lyrics. I love the chorus, “You only need a roof when it’s raining/ You only need a fire when it’s cold/ You only need a drink when the whiskey is the only thing that you have left to hold/ Sun comes up and goes back down/ And falling feels like flying until you hit the ground/ Say the word and I’ll be there for you/ Baby I will be your parachute”, it is infectious and one of the more intriguing, creative ones I’ve heard in a while.
A lot of people argue that what Sam Hunt and his fellow Metro Bros are putting out is an evolution of country music, but they’re wrong. That’s not country, evolved or not. If you’re looking for an evolution of country, look no further than Chris Stapleton. He brings a fresh sound and take to the table, all the while staying within the borders of the traditions of country music. “Parachute” is essentially a love song, not a conventional one, but a love song just the same. If you listen to the lyrics you’ll find a man offer a safe place to the one he loves, through thick and thin he’ll be there. I like it. It’s fresh and originally, and refreshing. Regardless of whether radio will actually pick this up and give it the airplay it deserves, you should definitely have a listen. I guarantee you’ll love it.
“And falling feels like flying until you hit the ground”
Written by Liz Austin/CMM Contributing Writer