Chris Stapleton on Instagram
Chris Stapleton on Instagram

“Higher” Album Review

On Nov. 10, 2023, Chris Stapleton released his fifth studio album, “Higher”. Although country is not my preferred genre of music, I have heard some of Stapleton’s music before and am very pleased with his style and tone. Below are the tracks from his newest album and my personal opinion of each song through the perspective of a non-country fan:

 

  1. “What Am I Gonna Do”: Singing with his wife, Morgane Stapleton, Chris Stapleton opens this album with a gorgeous duet about heartbreak and its aftermath. While being a slower song, the strong guitar and drums combine to contribute to the classic country sound I imagine when I think of country music. 
  2. “South Dakota”: The second track is the perfect mix of rock and country, perfectly displaying Stapleton’s gorgeous vocals. The switches from subtle to intense guitar and drums help to highlight the song’s themes of self-destruction and depression.
  3. “Trust”: Contrasting the previous track, “Trust” conveys the importance of trust in relationships and discusses how Stapleton does not want an unstable foundation to end his relationship. Morgane Stapleton being a backing vocal on this track in addition to its simple chorus makes it one of my favorites on the album. 
  4. “It Takes A Woman”: In another love song, Stapleton sings about “a woman” giving him support in difficult times. Although it is a slow song, the powerful vocals that have been heard already on the first few tracks remain present in “It Takes A Woman”. 
  5. “The Fire”: Moving away from the traditional country sound, “The Fire” consists of soft guitar and drums combined with Stapleton’s beautiful falsetto and heartfelt lyrics. The soft sound maintained throughout the track and the nostalgic guitar chord makes this my favorite song on the album. 
  6. “Think I’m In Love With You”: In this faster-paced song, the sudden realization of strong feelings appear to take Stapleton by surprise. With more of a pop beat than previous tracks, this song shies away from classic country, but remains a well-executed song.
  7. “Loving You On My Mind”: The hint of electric guitar in addition to the acoustic guitar heard in the majority of the tracks on this album puts yet another positive twist on the country sound I was expecting to be present throughout the album. While the tone of each song seems to differ, the passion and smooth vocals remain in each song. 
  8. “White Horse”: With similar power and intense drums and guitar as “South Dakota”, “White Horse” discusses self-reflection and realizing a person’s shortcomings when it comes to relationships. The isolated strong vocals displayed throughout the song make this another song that stands out to me on the album. 
  9. “Higher”: Returning to a slower pace, Stapleton once again displays his talent in this song about the love’s powerful impact. This theme is shown through the metaphor of being elevated by a person’s love, resulting in the title “Higher”. 
  10. “The Bottom”: Self-medication and heartbreak are themes that are explored in this song with the metaphor of a glass of whiskey. In saying, “So I don’t have a problem / If I can’t see the bottom,” Stapleton seems to justify his negative actions by stating that he does not have a problem because his glass is not empty. 
  11. “The Day I Die”: While reflecting on a past relationship, Stapleton makes the claim that when he has finally moved on from his previous relationship, he feels that this day will metaphorically kill him, as he can not see a life without this person.
  12. “Crosswind”: Through the point of view of a truck driver, the necessity of perseverance in tough times is discussed in “Crosswind” with lyrics such as, “Sometimes, what drives a man / Ain’t nothing but a matter of will.” The guitar solo and catchy drum patterns throughout the song are my favorite elements of this track.  
  13. “Weight Of Your World”: With more subtle instrumentals than previous songs, Chris and Morgane Stapleton’s vocals are the main focus in this beautiful track about being there for someone in their times of need. 
  14. “Mountains Of My Mind”: In the last track on the album, the use of acoustic guitar as the only instrument adds to the raw emotions expressed in this song. The simplicity of the production allows for the message of being lost in life and the reality of struggling mentally to shine through. This is the perfect song to close the album because of its delicate sound and powerful lyrics. 

 

Overall, this album was incredibly well executed and greatly exceeded my expectations. The lyrics and melody of each song paired well together, and I appreciated the switch from a classic country sound to a more alternative sound in some of the tracks. Even though I am not the biggest country fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this album and will be listening to more of Chris Stapleton’s music in the future.

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