real, honest country with a gospel heritage

Nothing in This World (Goldenvine)

Chuck Higgenbotham

By Victoria Moon

I admit it: Iím not really a country fan. Perhaps itís because I'm originally from New Jersey, the land of really big hair and disco, or perhaps it's my fanatic devotion to groups like the Ramones and the Replacements, but the fact remains: I have no idea who Garth Brooks is.

But, while Iím confessing this, I should also tell you that I have Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits, and have been known in fits of melancholy and nostalgia to put that CD on and listen to "Crazy" about ten times in succession. I also confess to attending more than one Southern Gospel song-fest in my life, and having more than a little fun.

Itís like I told my friend Chris: If you grew up in the church, that Southern gospel sound runs in your blood, no matter how much alternative music you listen to. That twangy guitar, that gospel piano — it's a part of the gospel heritage.

Chuck Higgenbotham's new release Nothing In This World is an album full of that Southern gospel flair, that feel-good sound of steel guitars, country harmonies and gospel piano. Higgenbotham is a Louisville native who obviously believes in the message of his songs. With a big, impressive voice that reminded me of Charlie Rich, he takes his listeners down the country road of faith with simple arrangements and honest lyrics.

The title cut is a great ballad, made all the better by twangy steel guitar. In fact, one of the things I liked most about this album was the liberal use of the best elements of Southern gospel — electric guitar and gospel piano. Higgenbotham has assembled a great group of musicians to help him on this project, and their efforts show. He also wrote six of the nine cuts on the album, proving that he is an able songwriter as well as performer.

Praise You, Jesus" is one of Higgenbotham's own songs, and a powerful song of praise delivered with emotion and strength. My personal favorite was "Ain't Nothing Better Than Being There," a hand-clapping, shout-hallelujah number that brought back memories of the Cathedrals concert I went to with my Dad . . . but that's another review.

Chuck Higgenbotham's new release on the GoldenVine label has the best of real, honest country — a big voice, a gospel feel, and a simple joy that is tangible and backed up by some great guitar riffs. If you're a fan of this style of country, don't pass this one up.