“White Horse” is the newest single from superstar Chris Stapleton, and coincides with the announcement of his newest album, Higher, out November 10th. The tune isn’t new to Stapleton’s fans, who have gotten a taste of it in a live setting for, at least, the last 10 years. However, the studio version lives up to its full potential, no longer sounding like an experiment meant to be developed over time. Played in a higher key and featuring a very “Wanted Dead Or Alive”-type outlaw instrumental intro, Stapleton continues his run of dominance of the country genre.
He wrote the track with Dan Wilson of Semisonic and produced it with his wife Morgane and Dave Cobb.
There is something to be said about a song like this at this moment in time. With three of this week’s top four slots on the Billboard Hot 100 being filled by country songs, none of which have escaped critical discussion or controversy, Stapleton swoops in and proves just how untouchable he is now, and has been, since 2015’s Traveller. Not once acknowledging the mess those in his genre are making, Stapleton fires off “Wild Horse” as a reminder of what good music can sound like without a political agenda.
Anywho, both Stapleton’s and Taylor Swift’s “White Horse,” the latter off her Fearless (Taylor’s Version) album, take the traditional idea of riding up in a white horse and sweeping a lover off their feet and flips it on its head. Swift’s version is a final goodbye to a lover who waited too long to make things right; “This ain’t Hollywood / That was a small town/I was a dreamer before you went and let me down / Now it’s too late for you and your white horse to come around.” Stapleton’s is from the perspective of the rider of the horse, saying he’s not ready for that kind of commitment: “If you want a cowboy on a white horse / Ridin’ off into the sunset / If that’s the kinda love you wanna wait for / Hold on tight, girl / I ain’t there yet.”
While Swift’s is a career highlight, Stapleton’s is far more stirring musically. That Bon Jovi outlaw feel is maintained throughout the track, but Bon Jovi hasn’t been able to, convincingly, sing a song like this since the early-mid 2000s. On the other hand, Stapleton, as he has proven time and time again, continues to be a once-in-a-generation vocalist. He powers through the chorus every time by widening and closing the gaps in his voice repeatedly, bringing a level of intensity and blues that he mastered way before most knew who he was.
“Wild Horse,” while certainly not a song of finality in the context of the record or at a show, is easy stadium fodder. Stapleton and his band could sleepwalk their way through this thing and still have concertgoers rising out of their seats like they’ve been summoned by a higher power.