I doubt a guy like Chris Stapleton subscribes to Esquire magazine. Or any high-end glossy men's publications, for that matter. Still, I'm sure he's flattered that his debut single "What Are You Listening To?" is on their current list of The Music You Need to Hear This Week.
The magazine calls the ballad of musical memories the overlooked song of the week and wonders how it isn't at the top of the country radio charts. It is, as Esquire points out, "a notion with far more universal connotations for most of us than walking hand-in-hand in the moonlight on the beach with a Daisy-Duke-wearin' 'girl.'"
So if this tune isn't what everyone is now calling bro-country (a term coined by New York magazine's Jody Rosen and is defined as "music by and of the tatted, gym-toned, party-hearty young American white dude"), then what is it?
"It's a song about the songs we mark time and love with," Esquire says. "And yet, almost impossibly, his voice is the real story. His bushy beard ain't the only thing that'll remind you of Ray LaMontagne. It's deep, emotive and just the right shade of dark."
Stapleton does well with the emotive songs, even when he's not the one recording them. Luke Bryan recorded a song Stapleton co-wrote, "Drink a Beer," and then sang background vocals for Byran when he performed it at the recent CMA Awards.
Besides Bryan's current single, Stapleton has written hits for Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Darius Rucker, Trace Adkins, Josh Turner, Thomas Rhett , Adele and more.