Before we dive into the album, how are y’all hanging in there after seeing his dedication of the album to his bride, Morgane? I know that got me, and then seeing her response on Instagram sent me into a puddle.
“So many tears in my eyes I can’t see straight! I am moved and humbled, and I love you more than you could ever know.”
After seeing that, this pretty much sums up how I think the country music collective feels.
Stapleton highlights his prolific songwriting and phenomenal vocal range while shedding light on the value of simply produced music throughout the album.
One thing you can count on from Stapleton is he knows what works for his voice, and he leans into that, making each one of his tracks solid. Each time he releases a song, fans know they will like some aspect of it, and that is precisely what you can find on Higher. While some titles might resonate with others more than some, there is genuinely not a song I’d skip over listening to this album.
This album hits the pillars of sound music from sultry blues tracks like “South Dakota,” honky tonk outlaw sounds from “Crosswind,” to the love songs that leave you with a knot in your throat with “The Day I Die.”
Stapleton also exposes listeners to a new range in his voice on the title track “Higher,” which he recently revealed was a demo recording from when he first moved to Nashville. While it took over 20 years to find its way out of the vault, I am so glad it did.
And, of course, just like any other Chris Stapleton, the backup vocals coming from Morgane are beyond a perfect match.
The production value that went into this album is genuinely mind-blowing. It has the perfect amount of mixing so that it truly feels like you are sitting and listening to one of his live shows as you listen through the entirety of the album. His star-studded band is top-notch in the studio, making it easy to create an album that sounds like it took no back-end production – a perk of having a band filled with some of the industry’s best players.
This leads to another reason fans love the mastermind: you know what you hear on a record is what you will listen to on stage.
Even writing this article seems mildly humorous because Higher is one of those albums that is hard to put into words how it makes you feel. This will land in my top albums of 2023, hands down.