Single Review: Chris Stapleton, “Either Way”

“Either Way”
Chris Stapleton

Written by Tim James, Kendall Marvel, and Chris Stapleton

Stark and raw, “Either Way” is a harrowing portrait of a failing marriage.

Chris Stapleton reclaims his composition that was originally recorded by Lee Ann Womack, and as good as her recording of it was, it is exceeded by Stapleton’s version in every way.

It is incredibly risky to present a song as simply as Stapleton does, because with only an acoustic guitar to accompany him, the record’s success rests entirely on his vocal performance. Stapleton reveals previously hidden nuances in his own lyric, moving past the chilly bitterness and bringing regret, helplessness, and sorrow to the surface.

“Either Way” is Stapleton’s strongest single to date and easily one of the best releases of 2017.

Grade: A



  1. It’s a nicely written song but I must admit that if I was driving down the road and this song came on, it wouldn’t take long for me to change the dial. I’m not saying I would want to hear a bro-country ‘tailgates, beer-drinking, chasing-a-hot-girl’ kind of song either but this one sounds just a little too depressing IMO.

    I much prefer Trace Adkins’ Watered Down, which I could listen to all day long and not get tired of it.

  2. Caj said “It’s a nicely written song but I must admit that if I was driving down the road and this song came on, it wouldn’t take long for me to change the dial … sounds just a little too depressing IMO.” I agree. I’d much rather listen to Shenandoah’s “Ghost in This House”, a Hugh Prestwood song.

    I’m probably in the minority but I don’t care much for CS. I bought the hype and bought Traveller and was disappointed.

  3. Well I love this one. Off the album I prefer “I Was Wrong” and “Broken Halos,” but this is terrific. I love his voice.

  4. caj and bob I respectfully disagree. Part of the greatness of country music is how unabashed it can be about truth, especially between people in love. That stark reality is needed, on the radio and in life. I can’t turn away from a truth, even if it’s depressing. There will be a happy song soon enough.

  5. CraigR, my complaint with the song didn’t have to do with the lyrics being sad. My all-time favorite country singer, Crystal Gayle, made a career out of sad, melancholy songs. It’s the depressing production of the song that turns me off.

    But everyone connects to a song in a different way and I respect your opinion. I’m glad you like the song, as I’m sure many others will like it as well.

  6. I love the depressing production. For me, it compliments the bleak lyrics. I’m typically annoyed if a song sounds cheery, but the lyrics are sad, except for when bluegrass does it, of course.:) I’d like “Jolene” a lot better if the pace of the instrumentation matched the lyrics.

  7. Yes, I definitely know that version. It’s good! I don’t mind the pace of Dolly’s version, but the instrumentation is faster than I like, though Dolly doesn’t sing it fast. It’s an odd thing that maybe only I notice.

  8. Well, this probably won’t get played on the radio, but that says more about radio than about the song, IMO. I think sometimes a contrast between upbeat music and bleak lyrics can be interesting (Clint Black’s “Killin’ Time” comes to mind as an all-time classic of this sub-genre, I’m sure there are many more). But I think the production on this one is appropriate. Stapleton’s voice is more than enough to carry the song, IMO. It’s definitely one of the new album’s highlights for me.

  9. This song hurts my ears. I don’t mind the lyrics – it’s country. I admit to not being a big CS fan but I can listen to and even sing along to the other songs I’ve heard. Not this one – the volume goes way down or off. It’s that fingernails on the blackboard thing. Just my minority opinion.

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