From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. To read my recent interview with Chris Cagle, click here.
Chris Cagle “Back in the Saddle” (Bigger Picture Music Group)
Country-rocker Chris Cagle delivers an appropriately titled comeback album with “Back in the Saddle,” his first collection of new material in more than four years and debut effort on indie label Bigger Picture Music Group.
The former Capitol Records artist deftly slips back into the country music mainstream with lead-off track “Got My Country On,” which recently ascended to No. 12 on the Billboard country songs chart, and new single “Let There Be Cowgirls,” both the kind of Southern-rocking rural anthems that have made Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert stars.
But when Cagle croons about “getting it done with my own two hands,” “putting some green in a coffee can” and “loosening the buttons on my blue collar,” he does it with added authority and authenticity, even if such lyrics have become a bit too familiar. After all, the self-proclaimed “redneck rock ‘n’ roller” walked away from his show business career in 2008, moved to Marietta and started building a horse ranch. He then got married and started a family before returning to music.
Marriage and fatherhood seem to suit Cagle, 43, who co-wrote some of the best cuts on “Back in the Saddle” in honor of his wife, Kay, and their three daughters. The Louisiana native obviously had his bride in mind when he co-penned “Let There Be Cowgirls,” a raucous tribute to the women who are “the heartbeat of the Heartland,” as well as the softer, more romantic homage “Southern Girl” and the foot-stomping ode to life-altering love “Now I Know What Mama Meant.” He and Kim Tribble (who co-wrote a track on Aldean’s smash album “My Kinda Party”) collaborated on the passionate love song “Something That Wild,” one of the album’s highlights.
Cagle teamed with Brad and Brett Warren on the heartfelt father-daughter ballad “Dance Baby Dance,” and he boldly steps on his soap box to call out schools, politicians and cultural messengers who “keep washing brains on how to ride that gravy train/and teaching kids that there just ain’t no God up in the sky” with “I’ll Grow My Own,” which the Warren Brothers co-wrote with Casey Beathard (a contributor to Eric Church’s “Chief”).
Cuts like “When Will My Lover Come Around,” “Probably Just Time” and “Thank God She Left the Whiskey” showcase Cagle’s pleasantly weathered drawl, just as “Back in the Saddle” shines a spotlight on the Oklahoma newcomer’s return to the country ranks.