By Jasmine Lee
Chris Stapleton is back with yet another album filled to the brim with authenticity and that classic country feel everyone loves.
Released on Nov. 10, Stapleton’s fifth album, “Higher,” includes 14 tracks. As a Nashville-based singer and songwriter, Stapleton is recognized for seamlessly fusing country, rock and southern soul together in his musical style.
Stapleton’s career began as a songwriter for artists like Josh Turner and Thomas Rhett. His 2015 debut album, “Traveller,” propelled him to fame, boosted by a memorable performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 Country Music Association Awards, according to The Country Hall of Fame.
Stapleton won all three CMA awards he was nominated for in 2015, including Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year. Post-awards, “Traveller” topped both the country and all-genre Billboard 200 album charts, and his rendition of “Tennessee Whiskey” claimed the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
This recognition spurred him to continue creating music, resulting in the creation of “Higher.” Within these tracks, listeners can perceive Stapleton’s exploration of themes such as love, resilience and the peaks that life has to offer.
Some of my favorite tracks include “What Am I Gonna Do,” “It Takes A Woman,” “The Fire,” “White Horse” and “Higher.”
“What Am I Gonna Do” provides a compelling start to the album, serving as an excellent opening track. Listeners can distinguish the emotional longing in Stapleton’s voice as he expresses the challenges of moving on from a relationship. The heartbreak and yearning are visible within the lyrics, especially when he sings, “What am I gonna do / When I get over you? / What am I gonna be / When you're just a memory?”
One of the singles released ahead of the album, “It Takes A Woman,” left a lasting impression. Stapleton’s vocals, smooth as molasses with a hint of raspiness, create a stripped-back atmosphere featuring an acoustic guitar. The husky quality of his vocals, coupled with backup harmonies from his wife Morgane Stapleton, enhances the sentiment of yearning for his wife and expressing deep appreciation for her.
The fifth track, “The Fire,” serves as a brief interlude amid the country and rock tunes on the album. This song exemplifies that Stapleton’s vocals don’t require sheer power to evoke emotions. His soulful and somber voice, accompanied by drums and other acoustic instruments, instills a sense of calm. Despite its title, “The Fire” extinguishes inner turmoil and leaves a soothing impact on the listener.
“White Horse” injects a surge of energy into the album with its lively electric guitar riff, cymbals and drum beat right from the start, leading to a dynamic and explosive peak that establishes the song’s tempo. Rooted in blues and southern rock, the instrumental arrangement complements the lyrics, which delve into the initial uncertainties and potential hazards of a relationship, such as a perceived lack of commitment.
The ninth track, “Higher,” delves into the singer’s reflection on the profound impact of a romantic relationship. Metaphors like climbing hills or flying in airplanes symbolize life’s experiences, but true elevation and joy stem from the love shared. The partner is portrayed as the uplifting force, guiding the singer to emotional heights surpassing physical or cosmic journeys.
“Higher” is a musical tapestry weaving raw emotion and the genuine soul of rock country. For those seeking an authentic journey through heartfelt lyrics and soulful melodies, this album is a must-listen that resonates with every chord and lyric.