Chris Stapleton is an accomplished songwriter and performer from the Nashville scene. He got his start in songwriting, and he’s writer or co-writer on nearly 200 songs. 14 long years after moving to Nashville, he finally released his first album Traveller. We finally got a chance to hear Stapleton’s personal take on heartland rock n roll and country.
His third and latest offering From A Room: Volume 2 was released in 2017, earning him both a CMA and Grammy nomination. “Millionaire” was the first single released for the album. Written in 2002 by Kevin Welch, Chris Stapleton and his wife Morgane revive the song with heartland gusto. In typical Stapleton fashion, it comfortably roams the territory between country and southern rock.
What makes “Millionaire” such a treasure for ū:who is the laid back, sunny comfort that the listener slips into from the first bar. There is no hurry in Stapleton as he makes his way through the positive lyrics and non-acrobatic but honest melody, while the crisp production makes everything twinkle.
Morgane provides the track with much needed high register accompaniment. The duet sections also help the Stapletons fully own the song. The two have worked together many times, and their natural chemistry lends “Millionaire” the intangibles needed to rise above the standard fare.
At its heart, “Millionaire” is a simple storyteller’s take on the well-worn territory that the best things in life are free and love makes you wealthy in spirit. Of course, the song risks becoming a clichéd self parody, yet Welch’s lyrics succeed by leaning into specificity. Consider the verse, “When we ride around, ride around this old town / In the beat-up car, with the windows down / People look at her and they look at me / And say ‘That boy is sure living in luxury.’
Combined with the voices of the Stapletons and the band’s beer-in-the-daytime tempo, the listener can feel the wind in their hair as they drive through a small town in summer, still giddy in love after so many years. We can’t stop listening to a track that delivers such a positive feeling.
The single is a bold choice for Stapleton, who made his career from his songwriting. And yet, by mastering this cover, he presents another side of his talent as a musician: interpretation. When Solomon Burke took on the song for his 2006 album Nashville, he brought his grand swagger, with keys and a fiddle to boot. But Stapleton chose his own path, and by listening to both tracks, we can hear exactly who Chris Stapleton is.
“Millionaire” keeps ū:who returning with its uncomplicated optimism and laid back style. Stapleton maintains his southern boy composure, resisting the saccharine. Morgane adds reality to the track, anchoring the song in the singers’ real life marriage. Together, they produce a relaxed offering that reminds us that no matter what is in our bank account, love can make millionaires of us all.