Chris Stapleton, who has written four No. 1s on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for other acts, makes his solo album debut with Traveller. The set enters the Top Country Albums survey (dated May 23) at No. 2 (27,000 copies sold in the week ending May 10, according to Nielsen Music) and the Billboard 200 at No. 14 (30,000 equivalent album units).
Traveller logs the largest sales start for a country artist's first full-length album in 2015 and the biggest since Sam Hunt's Montevallo bowed with 70,000 on the chart dated Nov. 15, 2014.
The 37-year-old Stapleton has written a gaggle of charting tunes for a range of artists, including Hot Country Songs No. 1s for Josh Turner ("Your Man," 2006), Kenny Chesney ("Never Wanted Nothing More," 2007), Darius Rucker ("Come Back Song," 2010) and Luke Bryan ("Drink a Beer," 2014). Adele even covered a song that he wrote, "If It Hadn't Been for Love," which she included on select international editions of her 2011 pop opus 21.
Stapleton was previously a member of bluegrass band The SteelDrivers, who, in 2008 and 2010, notched a pair of No. 2-peaking albums on the Bluegrass Albums tally during his tenure with the act. He departed the group in 2013, the same year that he signed a solo recording deal with Mercury Records Nashville. He has tour dates lined up through October, including a handful of shows supporting Eric Church's The Outsiders World Tour.
Acts including Adele, as well as Justin Timberlake, have praised Stapleton's craft, although the new chart star (as an artist) is humble in response. "Any time that another artist or a critic that is well-respected says something nice about you, you're always thankful and hope that you can live up to that," he says.
"At the end of the day, I just have to do what I do and let it be what it's gonna be."
'BOAT' RIDE: On Hot Country Songs, Chris Janson's "Buy Me a Boat" re-enters at a new peak of No. 29. As a self-released single, it debuted at No. 33 on the April 4 chart almost entirely from sales after DJ Bobby Bones played it on his syndicated radio show March 20 (and Toby Keith tweeted about it). Now being promoted to radio by Warner Bros. Nashville, "Boat" relaunches, bounding 60-29 as the Greatest Gainer on Country Airplay (8 million in audience, up 560 percent, according to Nielsen Music) and returning to Country Digital Songs at No. 24 (13,000 sold, up 267 percent).
Janson is set to open 22 shows on Keith's Good Times & Pick Up Lines tour between May 29 and Sept. 25.