Chris Stapleton: ‘Higher’ – Album Review

Chris Stapleton shares his new album, Higher, out now, November 10th, on all streaming platforms. Listen to the new music below.

With one of country music’s most recognizable voices, Chris Stapleton is back and better than ever on his new album, Higher, out now. Produced by Stapleton alongside his wife, Morgane, and Dave Cobb, the new 14 track collection was recorded at Nashville’s RCA Studio A.

For the seven time and reigning CMA male vocalist of the year, Higher marks the follow up to 2020’s Starting Over. The new LP, released via Mercury Nashville, allows the bearded wonder to continue doing what he does best: release incredible country music that puts his voice at the forefront.

The album kicks off in high gear with “What Am I Gonna Do?,” a stirring mid-tempo ballad that perfectly pairs Stapleton’s rasp with Morgane’s crystalline background vocals. Here, he finds himself wondering what comes after heartbreak ends. “What am I gonna do when I get over you? // What am I gonna be when you’re just a memory?” He asks in his famous growl. “What am I gonna drink? // When I don’t have to think about what I’m gonna do without you.”

While he may be heartbroken on the album opener, he celebrates love and romance on tracks like the airy “Trust,” the poignant “It Takes a Woman,” the proclamation of eternal love on “The Day I Die,” and the baby-making jam, “Loving You On My Mind.” “Trust” is an immediate highlight with its twinkling acoustic guitar and light percussion as Stapleton croons “If you trust in forever // Trust this heart of mine // We could lose ourselves just like lovers do // If you trust in me, like I trust in you.”

Likewise, “It Takes a Woman” reads much like a love letter to his wife, proclaiming all of the ways in which she makes him better. Musically, it’s a sparse ballad that gives Stapleton’s voice room to breathe and shine. In a similar vein, the album’s title track shares much of the same message, as he describes the ways in which she elevates him, settling into his rarely used and incredibly impressive falsetto.

On “Think I’m In Love With You,” Stapleton proclaims his maybe-love over a 70’s tinted bass line, while “The Fire” finds him longing for a lover over bongos and light percussion. “Oh this fire is real,” He growls, voice laced with desperation. “You’re so close to me, but always out of reach.“

Stapleton turns things up on Southern rock tinted tracks like “South Dakota” and “Crosswind,” with the latter finding him running from something. “Trying to keep all the rubber on 65 // Might not make it out alive,” He growls. “White knuckling the wheel just to survive // Caught in the crosswind.“ Meanwhile, on “Dakota,” he finds himself where “trouble ain’t hard to find.”

“The Bottom” finds the Kentucky native experimenting musically, with its melody and instrumentation having a sunny and almost 80’s pop country vibe. Blended seamlessly with depressing lyrics and Stapleton’s downtrodden vocals, the pairing creates the most unusual juxtaposition. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

“Weight of Your World” finds the singer-songwriter willing to take on someone else’s burden when it becomes just too much to bear. While it could easily be a love song, it could be applied to anyone struggling in someone’s life. “Give me your darkest hour, Give me your deepest fear,” He sings.  “Just give me a call and I’ll be here, Give me the bars and chains that won’t set you free, Give me the weight of your world, And lay it on me  “

Higher ends with “Mountains on my Mind,” a stunning and threadbare track that was written solely by Stapleton who also played the song’s lone acoustic guitar. Here, he’s exceptionally vulnerable, battling his demons and seeking solace. “I think I’ll find a long white line, curse the world and leave it all behind,” He sings, his powerful voice softening alongside the instrumentation. “I’ve been trying all this time and still can’t climb the mountains of my mind.”

On Higher, much like his other albums, Chris Stapleton is unapologetically himself. He sings the way he sings, he looks the way he looks, he writes the way he writes, and it’s that authenticity that wins over legions of new fans year after year. While it may seem impossible, this LP continues to elevate the superstar, taking him even Higher.

Higher Tracklist:

  1. What Am I Gonna Do
  2. South Dakota
  3. Trust
  4. It Takes A Woman
  5. The Fire
  6. Think I’m In Love With You
  7. Loving You On My Mind
  8. White Horse
  9. Higher
  10. The Bottom
  11. The Day I Die
  12. Crosswind
  13. Weight Of Your World
  14. Mountains Of My Mind

Country Swag Picks:

  1. Trust
  2. What Am I Gonna Do?
  3. White Horse
  4. The Bottom

Chris Stapleton shares new album, ‘Higher,’ out now on all streaming platforms.

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For tour dates and more, including a June 8, 2024 stop at NJ’s MetLife Stadium with George Strait and Little Big Town visit his official website here.

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Higher is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.