Chris Stapleton is a lucky one. He has written songs for a gaggle of country’s biggest stars and his record Traveller hit number one on the Billboard Top 200. He is an undeniable force in a country music and will probably go down as one of the greatest country artists of our time. But, he does not stand alone. Every night Stapleton performs, he stands next to his love Morgane, the rock and muse of Stapleton’s meteoric rise.
Their relationship has already garnered comparisons to Johnny Cash and June Carter. Each are accomplished musicians and songwriters in their own right, but together they are magic. You cannot quantify it, but the result is undeniable. If you listen to Chris or Morgane without the other you can feel the difference. The songs are excellent, but not complete.
Certainly, Chris and Morgane can perform without one another. They are technically sound and bring feeling to every song they perform. But, when they stand next to one another, the songs become real. Love like theirs is musical alchemy that transforms a nice tune into a story people can relate to and incorporate into their lives. They turn chord progressions into intimate letters, singing as if they are confessing their love for the first time
Even on huge stages with raucous crowds, the two are anchored to one another. At the 2015 CMAs, The Stapletons performed with Justin Timberlake in a crowd pleasing compilation of “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink You Away.” It was a exciting mix of Memphis soul and Nashville americana that was far and away the best performance of the night. But amidst it all, Chris and Morgane were locked in on one another.
Just being together on stage elevates Chris’ music to another level. Being able to look at the one Chris wrote his song to brings gravity to the lyrics to “I Was Wrong.” The song would be theoretical coming from anyone else and sentimental without Morgane on stage. But when Stapleton sings to Morgane, the song becomes a confession, an act of repentance, and plea for reconciliation.
Record companies spend millions of dollars attempting to manufacture the natural chemistry the Stapletons carry onstage. But what they have isn’t math. You can’t just throw random people together and recreate Johnny and June. Their talent, hard work, and love creates what we all want to find in our music: truth. Without it, songs slip through your mind and pass into obscurity. Chris and Morgane make you stop and stare because you know you aren’t hearing just another performance; you are hearing their hearts. In that, we are the lucky ones.
If you still don’t believe it, just listen to
Stapleton introduce Morgane to the crowd.
Chris’ sophomore album, From a Room: Vol. 1 is out now.