Album Review: Chris Cagle – ‘Back in the Saddle’
My opinions and thoughts about music are probably a tad bit more passionate than the typical music reviewer. I study popular music at the doctoral level. Obviously then, music is very important to me. There are less than five musical artists that I am emotionally and financially invested. If I own his/her complete catalogue, I consider that a monetary investment, and for some reason or another, I develop a strange emotional attachment to each (regardless that I do not personally know these individuals). Chris Cagle is included in this group.
We all know Cagle has overcome many obstacles, both personally and professionally, over the past several years. I’ve missed his music while he was gone. Since his last studio release in 2008, every couple of months I would post a social media status update that just said “I miss Chris Cagle. I just wish he would get his shit together.” After a few years, I gave up hope that he would ever come back with new music, so when I got the message asking if I wanted to review his new release, I jumped at it. I crossed my fingers and in my head I said “Please be good, please be good, please be good, and please tell me you have brought your A-game”. While downloading the music, I read the track by track description. By track 8, I was beaming with pride for my boy Chris Cagle. He got it. He got his shit together. After listening to the album, I can honestly say, he did it. Cagle did the hard work on himself, he’s grown up, he readily acknowledges his past screw ups, and he has a new wife and baby. He’s a different man now, and it shows in his music. His voice is flawless, he sounds better than he ever has before. Cagle has found peace in himself and on his horse farm in Oklahoma. Life is just like breaking horses. Sometimes it’s wild and uncontrollable and often after being thrown over and over, you want to give up. You can either lie in the mud or you can get up, show the horse who is boss, and get back in the saddle. Cagle is Back in the Saddle and in control.
“Got My Country On” – You have probably heard it already on radio. It’s classic Cagle and a great sing along track.
“Something That Wild” – Cagle co-wrote this and it is absolutely beautiful. He wrote it about his wife, Kay, and it is just beautiful. I can’t describe it any other way.
“Let There Be Cowgirls” – This is the new release and I hope it does well on the charts. It’s a rocking tune.
“Dance Baby Dance” – It made me cry. Well I am a mother and this song, written by the Warren Brothers and Cagle, is up there with Trace Adkins “Just Fishing”.
“When Will My Love Come Around” – This track is a little different, a little more bluegrass than the typical Cagle rocking redneck tune or love ballad. But it has been stuck in my head for hours now.
“Southern Girl” – Cagle’s voice is flawless and this track shows how relaxed he has become. His voice isn’t tight and constrained; he lets the emotion flow out right out.
“Probably Just Time” and “Thank God She Left the Whiskey” – I put these two together because they are by far my personal favorites. While Cagle did not write either of these, it is easy to see why he feels strongly about them. Both hit close to home for him personally and I could tell that every line rings true for him.
Cagle said “When I sang the scratch vocals (for “Probably Just Time”), I just broke down; I realized how I’ve hung onto all the baggage, anger and hurt all of these years. There are a lot of people who are hurting and don’t know how to let go of it, or don’t feel like they deserve to let go of it. I held onto it for a long time and it almost ruined my life. This song says, ‘It’s okay to let it go.'” Cagle continued, “‘Whiskey’ is a reminder of who I used to be; I’ve lived it and I’ve felt it. Instead of dealing with my pain, I would self-medicate with the bottle in hopes it would be a cure-all and gone the next day! Turns out it doesn’t work that way!”
Overall Rating: 5/5
–Judy Core, CMIL Contributor
If you are new to Cagle, I recommend the following tracks as must-have’s for your music library.
“Country By the Grace of God”
“I Breathe In, I Breathe Out”
“I’d Be Lying”
“Chicks Dig It”
“Night on the Country”
“What a Beautiful Day”
“Miss Me Baby”
“Anywhere But Here”
“I’d Find You”
“What Kind of Gone”
“No More Love Songs”
“It’s Good To Be Back”
“Never Ever Gone”