As a songwriter in Nashville, Chris Stapleton has written hits for Kenny Chesney, George Strait and Darius Rucker. As a singer, he once led the bluegrass band The SteelDrivers, and more recently stepped into the solo spotlight with Traveller, his debut album. It's the kind of country record that gets better the more you wear it in: When NPR Music named it one of our favorite albums of the first half of 2015, critic Ann Powers compared it to a "soft denim jacket ... pulled out time after time, lending comfort, suiting every occasion, with treasure stuffed in every pocket."
It's easy to understand why other singers took to his songs — Stapleton writes lyrics that sound classic but never dated — but his softly creaking voice gives them the home they deserve. And even though those songs stand plenty well on their own, it's nice to have a little support. When Stapleton stepped behind the Tiny Desk to play selections from Traveller, he was joined by his wife Morgane on harmony vocals. Between patient, detailed songs of devotion to love, Los Angeles and liquor, they paused for banter about the summer heat in D.C. and the large number of guitars Chris owns ("Not supposed to tell that part," he said to Morgane).
Watch him hide behind a large hat, a beard and a battered vintage guitar; watch her smile at him during "More Of You" with a combination of admiration and affection. Like the songs themselves, their performance is full of private moments worth sharing widely.
Traveller is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)
- "More Of You"
- "When The Stars Come Out"
- "Whiskey And You"
Producers: Jacob Ganz, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Lani Milton; Assistant Producer: Mina Tavakoli; photo by Lani Milton/NPR
For more Tiny Desk Concerts subscribe to our podcast.