Review: Chris Stapleton’s New Album ‘Higher’
UPDATED: November 10, 2023
UPDATED: November 10, 2023

Album Release: November 10, 2023

Label: Mercury Nashville Records

Chris Stapleton Sings Soulfoul R&B Songs

Let’s discuss Chris Stapleton’s latest album, Higher. First off, let’s address the elephant in the room, it is NEVER my intention to be negative for good reason. Everyone has different tastes, and if I don’t resonate with something, it simply means it’s not my cup of tea….You know that old saying about assholes and opinions, then again, you’re here for it.

Undeniably, Chris Stapleton is a vocal powerhouse and has rightfully earned his place as a country music icon. Winning Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2023 CMAs solidifies his status. During that broadcast Chris performed his single White Horse showcasing his new album.  Throughout the years, Stapleton has proven to be one of the top vocalists in history, and I’ve been a fan since his days with The Steel Drivers. I often wander how much of the public is aware of the Bluegrass version of Chris Stapleton. I find myself time and time again, turning his self-proclaimed fans onto If it Hadn’t Been For Love or anything off that 2008 The Steeldrivers album. It’s personally my favorite Chris Stapleton album.

HIGHER

However, Higher doesn’t align with my preferences. Before you all show up with axes and torches, there’s a comment section down below for a reason. Feel free to share your own thoughts or dispute my critique if you feel it necessary. While we could debate the definition of “Roots” music, Higher doesn’t seem to lean towards that approach. The majority if Higher is just a straightforward R&B album with smooth and sultry vibes akin for baby making.

Despite the fact that it’s an R&B album disgused as country music, Stapleton has always been a prolific writer. Lyrically this album reads country music when on paper, but it just doesn’t sound that way. Its packed tightly from beginning to end with whiskey-laden tunes, love gone wrong ballads, and just straight up sentimental love songs.  Aside from the dynamic hit single White Horse, the other standout track for me is The Bottom, a perfectly crafted country song with clever lyrics, rhythmic flow, and a catchy hook. By far the best of the album.

I don’t want to criticize Chris Stapleton, who has proven to be a genre-bending megastar, especially considering his role as a songwriter first. However, I do miss the bluegrass days of the Steel Drivers. Tennessee Whiskey catapulted Stapleton to stardom, into space, and out past the moon. I think this album is a direct correlation of that. It feels like he’s trying to recapture his lightning in a bottle moment. The departure from the genre is not what I find flaw with, but more so, I just find his shift towards R&B a bit one-dimensional. Theres NO DOUBT the man can vocally slay the transition, but I just don’t think it was properly executed.  The entire album feels a bit monotonous, lacking the variety that used to make his music more interesting.

Final Thoughts

Despite my personal preferences, and that’s all they are folks, I acknowledge that Higher is a solid album. Although the music and arrangements might not offer much diversity, Stapleton continues to wow, as his vocal talent does all of the heavy lifting. I will always appreciate his contribution to the Roots Music Movement. Stapleton is one of the very few “little guys” to ever break through into the top 40, not just as an artist, but also as a prominent songwriter.  Chris Stapleton has paved the way for so many others now rightfully finding success in modern country music. While Higher may not be my favorite, I remain grateful for Stapleton’s impact and hope to see him return to his roots in the future.

Favorite Tracks: White Horse, The Bottom

 

RootsnRevelry Grade:                           

Watch Chris Stapleton and his wife, Morgane Stapleton perform White Horse live on the 2023 CMAs
‘Passage Du Desir’ – Johnny Blue Skies – New Album Review

‘Passage Du Desir’ – Johnny Blue Skies – New Album Review

For those unacquainted, Johnny Blue Skies is the new alias of the legendary badass, Sturgill Simpson. Known for his genre-defying approach, Simpson now records under this fresh moniker, presenting his latest work, Passage Du Desir. Stugill Simpson Vs. Johnny Blue...

Vincent Mason Releases New Single: ‘Heart Like This’ (w/Review)

Vincent Mason Releases New Single: ‘Heart Like This’ (w/Review)

Vincent Mason, a burgeoning talent within the roots music arena, has just released his latest single Heart Like This. The poignant song delves into the harrowing aftermath of heartbreak once more, a theme that resonates deeply with his listeners. Released on July 5th,...

‘Long Way from Home’ – George Ducas – New Album Review

‘Long Way from Home’ – George Ducas – New Album Review

Renowned country music artist George Ducas, celebrated for his Billboard Top 10 hit Lipstick Promises, has an impressive track record of penning successful songs for legends such as George Jones, Garth Brooks, The Chicks, and Trisha Yearwood. Produced by the esteemed...

‘Bright Skyline’ – Matt Hillyer – New Album Review

‘Bright Skyline’ – Matt Hillyer – New Album Review

Matt Hillyer comes to the forefront with his new album Bright Skyline. Discovering great talent is always a thrill, and sometimes a humbling one when I realize I've overlooked a remarkable artist. Often, this talent hails from Texas—a state with a unique ecosystem of...

Eddie Flint Releases New Single: ‘Midnight Rider’

Eddie Flint Releases New Single: ‘Midnight Rider’

Eddie Flint, the rising country artist and active-duty U.S. Sailor, has released his heartfelt new single, Midnight Rider. The track is entirely written, recorded, and produced by Eddie, showcasing his multifaceted talent. This song tells the poignant story of his...

Troy Cartwright Releases New Single: ‘Lincoln Continental’

Troy Cartwright Releases New Single: ‘Lincoln Continental’

Country music sensation Troy Cartwright has released his highly anticipated new single, Lincoln Continental. The song tells the heartwarming love story of Cartwright's grandparents, brought to life through his soulful vocals and a captivating, groovy melody....

‘Fighting For’ – Evan Honer – New Album Review

‘Fighting For’ – Evan Honer – New Album Review

Evan Honer returns with his latest album, Fighting For, released on June 7, 2024. The new project showcases his growth as a songwriter and artist, featuring heartfelt lyrics and a blend of traditional instruments and modern sounds, proving he is a standout in the...

Sierra Ferrell To Headline at FloydFest’s New Site (2024)

Sierra Ferrell To Headline at FloydFest’s New Site (2024)

Sierra Ferrell is set to headline FloydFest 24 Horizon, bringing her unique blend of American roots music to the festival's new location in Floyd, Virginia. After the cancellation of FloydFest 2023 due to environmental regulation issues, anticipation for the event has...

Related Articles

‘Passage Du Desir’ – Johnny Blue Skies – New Album Review

‘Passage Du Desir’ – Johnny Blue Skies – New Album Review

For those unacquainted, Johnny Blue Skies is the new alias of the legendary badass, Sturgill Simpson. Known for his genre-defying approach, Simpson now records under this fresh moniker, presenting his latest work, Passage Du Desir. Stugill Simpson Vs. Johnny Blue...

‘The Great American Bar Scene’ – Zach Bryan – New Album Review

‘The Great American Bar Scene’ – Zach Bryan – New Album Review

Zach Bryan returns with his latest album, The Great American Bar Scene, releasing fittingly on the anniversary of our great nation July 4, 2024. True to Bryan's prolific pace, this album arrives just 10 months after his self-titled album, Zach Bryan. Comprising 19...

Vincent Mason Releases New Single: ‘Heart Like This’ (w/Review)

Vincent Mason Releases New Single: ‘Heart Like This’ (w/Review)

Vincent Mason, a burgeoning talent within the roots music arena, has just released his latest single Heart Like This. The poignant song delves into the harrowing aftermath of heartbreak once more, a theme that resonates deeply with his listeners. Released on July 5th,...