Chris Stapleton

East Kentucky HomeThe SteelDrivers
Secret WeaponThe Jompson Brothers
Nobody To BlameTraveller
Tennessee WhiskeyTraveller
Second One To KnowFrom A Room: Volume 1
Hard Livin'From A Room: Volume 2
You Should Probably LeaveStarting Over
ArkansasStarting Over
White HorseHigher

Chris Stapleton From A Room 1


Chris Stapleton playlist



Contributor: Will Martyn

Name: Chris Stapleton
Born: 1978, Lexington, Kentucky
Genre: Americana
Overview: Singer/songwriter, former frontman/guitarist of The SteelDrivers and The Jompson Brothers

Chris Stapleton moved to Nashville in 2001 and began his musical career as a songwriter, penning tracks for George Strait, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw among others. Whilst continuing his songwriting, Stapleton fronted two bands – bluegrass outfit The SteelDrivers and Southern Rock band The Jompson Brothers. Neither band had commercial success but both built up a cult following, particularly in the southern states.

Stapleton’s solo career took off in 2015 with his debut album Traveller. His distinctive growl, supported by harmonies from his wife, Morgane, over classic Americana saw him quickly became a household name in the US and across the globe. He has subsequently released four further genre-spanning albums, touching on country, folk, bluegrass, soul, blues and rock. He’s also had further commercial success collaborating with artists such as Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake.

The 10 tracks I’ve chosen span Stapleton’s career, as both a band member and solo artist, featuring hit singles but also some ‘deep cuts’. They’re also the tracks that hold a special place in my musical heart. Before my children were born, my wife and I went on a US holiday with my parents in 2016, visiting Nashville, Memphis, Chicago and New Orleans. The Traveller album was played at loud volumes in our car, on my headphones and in the many bars we visited.

Limiting it to 10 tracks has been tough but will hopefully give you all a taste of what Chris Stapleton has to offer. I’ve listed then in chronological order, with the aim of helping people see how his sound has evolved. I hope y’all enjoy.


Chris Stapleton and his band, The Steeldrivers, officially opened my eyes to Bluegrass. East Kentucky Home from their 2007 eponymous album is an ode to a long-lost love in Stapleton’s home town, Cause I’ve been dreaming of the girl I left behind, Lord she had the truest heart I’ve ever known, And I’ve been looking for a world I’ll never find, Ever since I left my East Kentucky home.


Stapleton’s second band, The Jompson Brothers, were flat out rock. Secret Weapon is a banger. Country star Jason Aldean uses the track as his walk-on tune at live shows. Aldean sums up the track pretty well: “It’s just one of those songs that gets you fired up and ready to go.”


Nobody To Blame stood out when I first got hold of Stapleton’s 2015 debut album Traveller. But on a family holiday to Nashville the following year, I heard it on the speakers in The Loveless Cafe and just thought, ‘Wow. This is the one’. Shout out to Mickey Raphael on harmonica.


Tennessee Whiskey is probably Chris Stapleton’s best-known track. Written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove and previously recorded by both George Strait and David Allan Coe, Stapleton adopted the track on his debut album, added a bluesy feel, and it’s a beaut. As at December 2023, it has 812 million plays on Spotify and it’ll hit the 1bn mark in reasonably short order I suspect.


The next one is the song that got me into country music. People often note a ‘gateway’ track that opened them into another genre. For me, and my love of country, it was Traveller by Chris Stapleton. The steel pedal guitar, the harmonies, the story telling, it has it all. This track opened my mind to so many other country artists, thank you Mr Stapleton.


Stapleton is known and famed for his ballads but for me personally, it’s his up tempo, rockier tracks that tend to do it. Second One To Know is one of them. Journalist Kevin Rutherford sums up the track much better and more eloquently than I ever could: “a raucous, guitar-led jaunt that isn’t just a barn burner – it nukes the thing from orbit”. Boom.


When Stapleton played Hard Livinˈ at the Farm Aid festival in 2018, he opened the track by saying, “let’s get into some hillbilly stuff”. As a big fan of Outlaw country (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson etc), this track ticks a lot of boxes for me. Grab a cold beer, turn the volume up and enjoy.


Taken from his fourth album, 2020’s Starting Over, You Should Probably Leave shows a different side to Stapleton’s songwriting. Taking influence from 70s soul, it tells the story of an on/off couple drawn back together despite knowing it’s probably not for the best. The pulsing bassline accompanying Chris and Morgane’s vocals makes this one of his very best.


Also taken from Starting Over, Arkansas is straight up rock and roll. Stapleton wrote the song during a road trip, driving back to Nashville from Oklahoma to pick up a car his wife got him for his birthday, and it has that road trip feel to it. Turn it up, put your foot down (responsibly!) and bop your head to this banger.


From the new 2023 album Higher, White Horse is the standout track. It was written by Stapleton ten years earlier with the aim of getting it on the soundtrack to the 2013 Johnny Depp film, The Lone Ranger. It didn’t make the soundtrack but it’s very much the film’s loss. It’s epic in nature and would be equally at home in a stadium or a dive bar. And I think that sums up the universal appeal of Chris Stapleton in a nutshell.



Chris Stapleton poster
2024 UK Tour


Chris Stapleton Official Website

Chris Stapleton Fan Club

Chris Stapleton YouTube Channel

Morgane Stapleton (Wikipedia)

The SteelDrivers (Wikipedia)

The Jompson Brothers (Wikipedia)

Chris Stapleton biography (AllMusic)

Will Martyn is based in Surrey and grew up in the 80s/90s on a diet of Britpop plus 60s guitar bands, courtesy of his parents. Will has since broadened his tastes and has a keen interest in everything from Delta Blues and 1920s Folk through to present day Indie and UK Rap, stopping off at Rock n Roll, Nu Metal, Punk, Americana, Country, Hip Hop and 80s Pop in between. Will can be found on Twitter/X @WillMartyn

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