Any discussion of 1980’s country music cannot be complete without bringing up the name Vern Gosdin. Known as “The Voice” for his smooth vocal style, Vern could almost immediately demand your attention within the first three or four notes of a song; he was that good. And of all his album releases, his 1987 release, Chiseled in Stone may have been the epitome of his career. His comeback album, after almost three years away from the charts, became his highest charting album, peaking at number seven. It yielded four top ten singles, “Do You Believe Me Now”, “Set ‘Em Up Joe”, “Who You Gonna Blame It on This Time”, and the title cut. A fifth, “Is It Raining at Your House”, would later be released from his “Ten Years of Hits” release.
The album kicks off with one of Vern’s best, “Do You Believe Me Now”. If you are somehow unfamiliar with Vern, by the end of verse one, you’ll be, a) hooked; b) understand why he is “The Voice”. Only George Jones could convey heartbreak in song, any better. “Do You Believe Me Now”, Vern’s comeback hit, climbed into the top ten in early 1988. It was his first country top forty entry, since 1985.
“Tight as Twin Fiddles” is a western swing-styled track that compares the love of a woman to the love of Bob Wills’ music.
Vern Gosdin shined on ballads, as is the case with “Is It Raining at Your House”. It became Vern’s final top ten hit in early 1991. It’s wonderful to hear such mastery.
“Set ‘Em Up Joe”, Vern’s tribute to Ernest Tubb, hit number one in the summer of 1988. A mid-tempo track perfectly suited for Vern’s vocals, the song, itself, is a great composition. Gotta love a song that honors E. T.!
Reading the title, you know you are getting pure country music with “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong (Just Ain’t Nothing Right)”. It starts out with the steel guitar riff that takes us into another standout Gosdin performance. Vern’s vocalizing confirms that this is country music the way it should be. A single-worthy track as good as “Do You Believe Me Now” or “Is It Raining at Your House”.
Again, I must note how Vern conveys heartbreak with his vocals. One of the top five vocalists, when it comes to emotional singing.
After a well performed side one, we turn our attention to side two. This side begins with another ballad, the title cut, “Chiseled in Stone”. A top ten hit in the fall of 1988, it’s a favorite among many Gosdin fans. I admit that as strong as it is (which your title cut should be), It’s not even the best song on the disc. A typical Vern Gosdin performance; take a great song and make it classic.
“Who You Gonna Blame It on This Time”, fourth top ten single released from the album, charted in early 1989. A nice reminder that Vern didn’t always have to sing the slow tear-jerkers.
The next track, “It’s Not Over, Yet” is a song that falls flat, despite a typically stellar Vern Gosdin performance. Rather bland and lacking lyrical interest. Despite this, Vern makes the song better by simply singing it.
“Nobody Calls From Vegas Just to Say Hello” speeds things up. A bit of a quirky melody, but one that is infectious and likable, with a great guitar riff. A fun track to give listen to.
“I Guess I Had Your Leavin’ Comin’” is a pure country tear-jerker. The lyrics are a bit weaker than the other tracks; despite this, the song contains a very enjoyable melody. Vern’s work on this track, like the rest of the album, is excellent. Overall, a nice way to end the album.
This album ranks at, or near the top of the best work of Vern Gosdin. A couple of tracks may not be as strong, but that’s not Vern’s fault, in fact his work enhances them. And that results in an album in which there is no need to skip any tracks. Just play it through and enjoy the sounds of a true master of the vocals.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, and focuses on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.