Chris Stapleton released his newest album, Starting Over, on Nov. 13, and the set debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, giving the singer his fourth number one on the chart in as many albums. It also gave Stapleton his fourth Top 10 on the Billboard 200 with an arrival at No. 3, topped the Americana/Folk Albums chart, also the fourth time Stapleton has achieved the feat, and in its first week, ending Nov. 19, earned 103,000 equivalent album units with 75,000 in album sales
Stapleton also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Country Songwriters chart dated Nov. 28 thanks to five writing credits on the latest Hot Country Songs chart. Starting Over is Stapleton's fourth studio album and his first since 2017's From a Room: Volume 2. Produced by Dave Cobb, Starting Over covers a number of emotions in Stapleton's typically raw style, addressing topics including the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting ("Watch You Burn") and the loss of his family dog ("Maggie's Song").
"There's a lot on this record that I'm finding out, as I'm starting to talk about it a bit, was very reactionary and in the moment," he told Vulture. "On previous records, there was songwriting that probably took place in a working songwriter vacuum, that sat around for a number of years and found a purpose when it was time to make a record."
The album is not a sonic departure for Stapleton, who burst into many country music fans' collective consciousness with his 2015 CMA Awards performance with Justin Timberlake. Rather, it remains true to the sound that has found him success, combining country, Southern rock and singer/songwriter sensibilities to create an album that stays completely Stapleton but doesn't settle.
"If part of what I do is send people looking at more traditional elements of country music, I think that's a good thing, not that anything progressive or new is necessarily bad," he mused. "I'm not someone who picks some kind of standard and says, 'Yeah, this is good, and this sucks.' If I don't like something musically, generally, I just think it's not meant for me. There's a lot in the world that's popular that people find enjoyment and that I might not and vice versa. It doesn't annoy me if somebody thinks that I like country music because I do."
The Kentucky native explained that when he sets out to make music, he isn't thinking about anything other than creating something that he enjoys.
"I'm fine if I fall into one category more than another, and I'm not unaware that I jump around a little more than some people think I should, but music is music," he said. "There's two kinds of music: good music and bad music. I try to lean into the good as much as I can. We're all figuring it out."