Chris Stapleton & Jason Isbell
with Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls
Chris Stapleton boldly introduced himself to the public at-large in 2015 with the release of his breakthrough debut album, Traveller. Released in May on Mercury Records Nashville, Traveller initially debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart with more than 27,000 albums sold, making it the best-selling first week by a debut country artist in 2015. The album also received immediate and extensive critical acclaim and landed him bookings on "Late Show with David Letterman," "The View," "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" among others. Renowned and respected in Nashville, Stapleton has co-written six No. 1 hits for some of country music's biggest stars and has continually worked as an in-demand session musician, providing masterful backup vocals and guitar work to countless pieces of music. To fans and the music press, the personal story surrounding Isbell's last, breakthrough album, Southeastern, is widely known and easily reprised. A troubled young troubadour, newly married, stepped away from the darkness of addiction into a new, uncertain life of clarity and commitment, reflecting ruefully on his hard won victories and the price he paid attaining them. It was an album of aching elegance, marked by the sort of lyrical precision that brought to mind certain literary masters of the melancholy American scene, from Flannery O'Connor to Raymond Carver. By avoiding the hairy-chested bombast of arena country music while crafting music with solid melodic contours Isbell created an album, and a sound, of memorably infectious empathy. For all the darkness that leaks into his songs (only because it exists out in the world) Isbell's fundamental orientation is still toward the light, even when it's fast receding. His humanity has an almost uncanny feel, as though he's lived three lives for everybody else's one. He believes in the basic power of his vocation as a writer, singer, player, and artist to conjure wholeness from a world of fragments. He's the musician we need now, and whom we've waited for: candid, vulnerable, outraged, literate, and just romantic enough to carry on in a period of rising disenchantment. His time has come, and so has ours. Listening to Isbell we also hear ourselves.
Date & Time
June 18, 2016