There’s something to be said for the kind of devout devotion that the Chigger Hill Boys and Terri express on their new album, Songs Like Those for Days Like These. Granted, the divide between bluegrass and Gospel is often indiscernible, but even so, the Chiggers manage to smooth the remaining rough edges. Chances are, even the most ardent advocates of maintaining some sort of stylistic separation won’t find any reason to quibble with this particular combination.
It’s little wonder then that the band, which originated with songwriters Mike Richards and Rodney Lay, Jr., has had such a successful run over the course of the past 20 year. So too, when Terri Argot, wife of the band’s bassist Ricky Gore, accepted an invitation to become the group’s singer, the Chigger Hill Boys found themselves elevated to another level.
Named for Richards’ Kentucky family homestead, and inspired by the 100 year-old United Methodist Church built at the foot of the Chigger Hill ridge, the band holds true to the simple sentiments that have been at the core of their devotional hymns since the beginning. Argot’s sweetly soothing vocals imbue each of these offerings with an underlying assurance, one that makes each selection a gentle respite from the more materialistic concerns of today’s workaday world. Even those who don’t consider themselves absolute believers may find some solace in Face to Face with Amazing Grace, Because He Loved Me, There’s More Where That Came From, and the title track, songs that are absolutely imbedded with the kind of core conviction that could actually bring the dubious and the doubters into the fold.
That said, there is some confluence of spirituality and the secular of What Love Looks Like To Me, a duet with guest Ben Rochester that intertwines the reality of commitment with faith in a higher power. It’s a lovely song, one that illuminates the fact that astute instrumental skills, a knack for carefully crafted melodies, and a gentle repast makes a formidable combination, regardless of the conviction that inspires the effort overall.
It’s notable too that the band has achieved its fair share of chart success, another indication that the Chiggers have honed their craft to near perfection.
While preaching and proselytizing can have a negative effect on some listeners, the ten tracks that make up Songs Like Those for Days Like These get the message delivered without coming across as didactic or demonstrative to any great degree. Believers will relish the sentiment while casual listeners should appreciate the intent. Indeed, songs like those don’t often find such a cohesive common bond.