"I'm rarely a man lost for words, but I'm lost for words."
Credit: Becky Fluke

Chris Stapleton’s Traveller is an old-school collection of crackling country outlaw tales. It’s also one of the most positively received country collections in recent memory, critically and also by his peers, so it was no surprise when he was nominated for three CMA Awards Wednesday morning.

Up for Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year, he was likely the only one shocked. “I’m rarely a man lost for words, but I’m lost for words,” Stapleton admitted to EW about his nominations. “I just keep saying ‘I’m grateful’ but I really can’t come up with any other way to say it. The fact that people like what we recorded and have taken the time to meet me and my wife and still said nice things about us and what we made…” he says before trailing off. “I’m just overwhelmed.”

As for the New Artist Category, Stapleton laughs that he might be just a little older than the rest of the his competition. “If they hand that one out according to age, I’ve got it,” he laughed. The Kentucky-native is 37, making him seven years older than his closest-in-age fellow nominee Sam Hunt and 18 years older than Tae Dye of Maddie & Tae. But, as EW said before, Stapleton’s point of view is one of his great strengths.