It’s been fun to watch Chapel Hart’s rise.
I’ve championed this all-female, Mississippi-based trio for years now, ever since I first heard “I Will Follow.” The group is insanely fun, and all of its members possess a ton of collective charisma as singers and performers that lends their material a lot of exuberance and charm – especially in playing to that distinctly ‘90s-meets-2000s country sound. And while I didn’t expect their run last year on America’s Got Talent, of all things, to provide their breakthrough moment, I’m thrilled they’ve found a wider audience on their terms.
Granted, it stings to see them have to still play the independent game when they deserve that bigger chance. And it further stings that they just released a new album on what was one of the busiest release days in recent memory last Friday. But there is something about the general tone of their newest album as a whole as well as its title track to suggest that they’re just fine for now.
Compared to their 2021 album, Glory Days is a bit more reserved as a whole. It sands away some of the overblown rock-leaning moments that didn’t gel well on that last project in favor of a leaner, more neotraditional-leaning effort as a whole. Perhaps a bit less direct and abrasive, then, but considering how often they lean on the fiddle to carry their midtempo grooves effectively, there’s still a fair amount of rollick and charm that carries this album through.
Of course, I’d say the bulk of that credit also goes toward each vocalist – particularly Danica Hart, who often takes the lead and carries the range needed to sell both the quirky, fun moments and the more heartfelt songs effectively. Like with most groups in this vein, however, I’m always left wishing for greater camaraderie between all involved to take advantage of the setting and lend some better punch to the material. The closer, “Welcome to Fist City,” is a highlight in this regard in how each member jokingly takes over their own role in the titular city of this Loretta Lynn-inspired kissoff track, but it’s a shame it’s really the only moment.
Granted, that greater camaraderie and sense of family is a big element of the content itself this time around. It’s a bit more personal to their own stories, like how they’re content to tackle the road and their own careers at their own paces (“Glory Days”), and a little homesick otherwise in sometimes needing to call back to their roots (“Fam Damily,” “Home Is Where the Heart Is”), even if they still sometimes lean a little too heavy on broad clichés over stronger details to hammer their points home. Even still, it’s a mostly warm, comforting album that clicks with me fairly strongly, given that I grew up in the general era invoked through their sound. And as for highlights, the strong midtempo groove of the title track is a nice sell, as is the goofy, island-inspired “Dear Tequila” that works best for the delivery, above all else. And of the few ballads here, “Love in Letting Go” is a heartfelt, tempered ode to having to say goodbye to a rose-colored past, which does provide an interesting counterbalance for this album, in particular.
But it’s also got a few duds: the cheesy sentimentality of “American Pride” and equally corny moments like “This Girl Likes Fords” and “Redneck Fairytale” being the main culprits. Even still, it’s always melodically sound and presented in good fun – a bit less wonky and a little more consistent than before, too. I still think they’re capable of aiming higher, but this is a solid next step worth the attention.
- Favorite tracks: “Glory Days,” “Dear Tequila,” “Home Is Where the Heart Is,” “Love in Letting Go,” “Welcome to Fist City”
- Least favorite track: “Redneck Fairytale”
One thought on “Album Review: Chapel Hart – ‘Glory Days’”
I had only ever heard IWF, but after reading this I think I want to hear some more!
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