Showing posts with label Travis Erwin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travis Erwin. Show all posts

Feb 12, 2021

Album Review / Mac Leaphart / Music City Joke

Wry Smiles for this Serious Album -- Music City Joke by Mac Leaphart


by Travis Erwin

 

I’ll start this review with a confession. I had never heard of Mac Leaphart when I took the assignment to write this review. I took the assignment and frankly put off diving in until he eleventh hour of my deadline. Three tracks in I regretted my procrastination because I could have first listened to this album weeks before I did. 

Music City Joke is an album that is sneaky good with simply intelligence and honest observation at the heart of the writing and a traditional sound to the music. “El Paso Kid” is a classic storyteller song delivered in that tender space between spoken word and Folk ballad. There are hints of John Prince and Robert Earl Keen in this story of an abandoned baby which ushers in this album quite well. Leaphart’s vocals are not going to wow those looking for the shiny, but it will wrap around those who appreciate honest emotion. 

Remind me of Jason Isbell singing an old Mac Davis track, “The Same Thing” is a nicely written unpretentious song from a songwriter who knows what he wants to say. The whiskey burn of a classic 70s Country song, and the smooth delivery of a songwriter’s intellect will quench your thirst on the track, “Blame On The Bottle.” The Honky-Tonk vibes give way to more a Hillbilly Rockabilly with a dash of Zydeco on “Honey, Shake!” This faster tempo track would be welcome on any dance floor come Saturday night, and while this track comes with a bit more vocal grit, it still feels like the kind of fun that you regret the next morning.

I tempted to describe “Ballad of Bob Yamaha or A Simple Plea in C Major” as Hayes Carll meets Blaze Foley, but the fact is Mac Leaphart sounds like so many different artists at once that you have no choice but to realize he is an artist all to his own. Sure, the influences are there but it is the overlapping, swirling whirls of these venerated influences that produces Mac Leaphart’s own voice and style. This is a track that will both make you smile and think, and in fact you can say the same for most of the songwriting on this album. 

Music City Joke” utilizes the power of honest observation and a genuine point of view to deliver words that talented writers make seem so simple but are in fact, ever-so-hard to distill down in a meaningful way. Leaphart does with ease through the album and here on the namesake track. “That Train” is the most commercial song on the album, but also my least favorite cut on the album. I think perhaps the metaphor and glory days of the train have been tackled in so many songs that it is a tough land for me personally, but for others this relatable metaphor will no doubt be their favorite as it is the most likely track to gain radio play. 



The writer in me, fell hard for the imagery and metaphor of “Window From The Sky.” This is the kind of truth we all need to hear from time to time as we avoid flying after and into the wrong thing. The grind of daily life is a toll we all pay and “Every Day” is relatable because of that. The smooth progression and emotional turning of the wheels gives this track a pulse uplifting in its honest relevancy. The entire album has a Kristofferson kind of vibe and it is especially strong on this track. Even if you’ve never been to Nashville’s actual “Division Street,” you can appreciate this track about chasing your shiny dreams in a place where the sparkle is hard to find by the harsh glare of morning light. We all tend to fool ourselves that the underbelly of what we want is all too often a reality rather than a mere speed bump. 

I do regret the weeks I could have been listening to this album and it is an early favorite here in 2021. I love hearing threads of influence from so many of my favorite artists, and I appreciate Mac Leaphart’s ability to tip his hat to them, without losing his own voice and style. This is an album I will listen to for years to come and that makes him far from a Music City Joke in my eyes.  



Music City Joke is available everywhere today.





Jan 7, 2021

Travis' Top 10 Albums of 2020

 Last one... till December.

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~Travis Erwin

1. Ward Davis - Black Cats & Crows

The title track was the first track I heard here and was strong enough to have me digging in for more. “Sounds of Chains” keeps the murder ballad alive and in gritty capable hands. The fourteen tracks here take you for an emotional ride and the collection feels traditional, without ever coming across as cliché. even on the Alabama cover, “Lady Down on Love.”


2. Bruce Springsteen - Letter to You

The now 71-year-old Springsteen has spent the better part of 50 years writing about characters as frayed as the cuffs of a well-worn denim jacket. Selling a idea of nostalgia has always been a big part of Springsteen, but here on this album, those sentiments feel more like affirmations than mystical ideals that maybe never were. ThetTitle track along with “Burnin’ Train,” “Janey Needs a Shooter,” and “I’ll See You In My Dreams.” Stood out for me.


3. Waylon Payne - Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me

Seventeen years is a long time to wait for a follow up album, and beyond that, Payne has a lot to live up given his royal lineage and ties to Outlaw hierarchy. This album lived up to all of it and perhaps even exceeded expectations.


4. Marcus KingEl Dorado 

With a bit of 70s funk throwback, King offers a unique vocal style. “One Day She’s Here,” and “Beautiful Stranger” were my favorite cuts.


5. Ruthie CollinCold Comfort

The album’s opening track, "Joshua Tree," might be my favorite cut of the year. It was inspired by the relationship of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. Other favorites of mine were “Dang Dallas,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “You Can’t Remember.”


6. Swamp Dogg - Sorry You Couldn’t Make It 

A few years back, I had the pleasure of witnessing Swamp Dogg join John Prine on stage a few years back, and this album again showcases their friendship as it includes a couple of Prine covers, but the richness of this album is in the soulful passion of the vocals even more than it is the song selection. Not traditional country by any stretch but soulful and meaningful as god music should be.


7. Thieving BirdsAmerican Savage 

After a long seven year wait between album releases these birds came back with a thieving vengeance in 2020. “Ruin,” “My Sweet Baby,” “Somewhere to Run,” “Sweet War,” and “Pockets of Gold” are all tracks that spoke to me.


8. American Aquarium – Lamentations 

No one speaks their mind like B.J. Barham and that is why his music tends to be so provocative.


9. John Baumann - Country Shade 

More of a singer/songwriter, than a natural showman, Baumann’s sounds isn’t exactly traditional country, but it always feels pure and true. So it is ironic that the lead track, “The Country Doesn’t Sound The Same,” is about the old sound disappearing. “If You Really Love Someone,” “Sunday Morning Going Up,” and “I Don’t Know” also spoke to me.


10. Stephanie LambringAutonomy 

“Joy To Jesus” is as powerful of a track as I heard in 2020, but Lambring’s talent goes well beyond this one track. The writing is powerful and the delivery emotional throughout the album.



Jun 25, 2020

Album Review / Will Hoge / Tiny Little Movies

Hoge’s Latest, Tiny Little Movies Offers a Few Plot Twists to Go Along with the Tried and True


By Travis Erwin

Will Hoge has long been the kind of songwriter that reveals big, bold, and immersive emotions, with lyrics that pour forth from out of way places, seemingly inconsequential lives, and a dialed in small story approach. Hoge’s new album, Tiny Little Movies is perhaps the perfect way to sum up his body of work, because few songwriters can render such powerful engagement from the microscope of everyday life.
Hoge has always managed to convey a truth and honesty which often manages to feel both bleak in its stark reality, and hopeful in the satisfaction of a hard day’s work kind of way. No matter how sore or tired you may be when the sun goes down, that satisfaction of knowing you have done something, and done it right is a kind of pride that is hard to match. That is the kind of pride Hoge instills with his songwriting even though he’s done the heavy lifting and all we’ve done is listen and go along for the ride.
All of that said, Tiny Little Movies left me feeling mostly different than my previous encounters with Hoge’s work. I say mostly different because a few of the tracks certainly delivered the expected emotional punch including the opening track, “Midway Motel.” The harmonica and Hoge’s trademark grit and gravel both in voice and songwriting tone get the album going. Knowing Hoge’s tendency to take a stand, I found myself wondering if the motel in question was a metaphor for those trying desperately to hold middle ground in these tumultuous times.
The second track on the album leaves no question to what Hoge is thinking. Though sonically it does hold some surprises. “The Overthrow” is pure rock and Hoge’s vocals came with hints of Ozzy and Black Sabbath. Lines like … slow dancing with a straw man, and Darth Vader with a spray tan draw a clear line in the sand.
“Maybe This Is Okay” comes with a slower, more soulful start before ramping up for the chorus. The track has a live music feel and is the kind of track you feel more than you hear. “Even The River Runs Out Of This Town” is the kind of down and dirty emotion that I have came to expect from Hoge and true to form, the simple yet poignant writing conjures forth complex thoughts and feelings, giving us yet another track bringing forth the beauty and power of Hoge’s songwriting and emotive vocal style.
At nearly six minutes, “My Worst” takes you for a long ride that includes a heavy heart full of regret, and a soaring, almost gospel like backing that lends the track a two-songs-in-one kind of vibe. There is a nice jam to the middle of the track and overall, this cathartic tone about letting go is a soul cleanser if you let it wash over you a few times.
“That’s How You Lose Her” feels a bit more commercial than most of the other tracks on the album. Lyrically it has a late 80’s early 90s country kind of feel about it, though Hoge’s gritty vocal delivery keeps it closer to Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town,” so in the end it doesn’t not feel like the biggest departure on the album. That honor goes to the next track.
Riding an almost punk sensibility, “Con Man Blues” is a hard-charged track that lets the music do the talking as much as the lyrics, and I honestly would never have guessed was Hoge was on the other side of the microphone had I heard this track out in the wild. That is not to say it is a bad track, only that it is almost unrecognizable as Will Hoge.
The eighth track on the album returns us to a more expected sound. “Is This All You Wanted Me For” is a punch in the gut track for those left in the wake of a user and a taker. An anthem for anyone who has been hurt by those who enter our lives take more than they ever give back. “The Likes Of You” is a melodic ballad that relies on a repetitious build to convey the progression of love and how it changes us in steps. Steps that we often don’t see or feel coming.
“The Curse" proved to be my least favorite track of the eleven making up the album. I struggled to stay with this rhythm and vocal cadence even though it all felt familiar, not in a nostalgic way, but in an … I’ve traveled down this road before manner that just did not keep me dialed in.
The album closed with easily my favorite track. “All The Pretty Horses” delivered that yearning emotion tinged with both hope and despair that is prevalent in so much of Hoge’s work. This tangible takeaway from much of his music is what I’ve always loved best about his songs, and here on the final track, you can feel it layered within the cleverly crafted lyrics.
Tiny Little Movies is another accolade for Hoge. The diversity in sound and subject matter makes it stand out and showcases the depth of his songwriting talent as well as versatility on stage or in the booth.
Like all great songwriters, this is not an album you can digest fully in a single sitting. The nuances and flavors are brought out with each listen, and that makes it certain this album will be added to my best of 2020 list because I know for certain I will be listening to it time and time again.
Tiny Little Movies is available tomorrow.
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The author of numerous works such as WAITING ON THE RIVER, TWISTED ROADS, and HEMINGWAY, Travis Erwin is best known for his comedic memoir THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES. Find links to all of his work, including other music reviews via his Twitter @traviserwin.

Apr 24, 2020

Jeff Crosby Points The Way With New Album, Northstar

By Travis Erwin
Jeff Crosby’s new album, Northstar, conveys a strong sense of self-affirmation that often feels like inner dialogue. But within the lyrics and melodies there is a broader relevance for us all as if Crosby has exposed his scars, fears, and dreams to the light of day so that in them we can find our own brand of self-reflection. Sure, Crosby is standing there front and center, but look a little closer and we are there in the background staring back at the same visions, emotions, and experiences. This is the gift well crafted music can deliver perhaps better than any other art form.
“If I’m Lucky” is an opener for those of us hanging on by a thread, but hanging on still. Be it a relationship, a dream or sanity we have all felt time, opportunity, and drive slipping away to the point that making it another day or week feels like a matter of luck. The song ushers in the we are in it together vibe that holds through many of these selections.
The title track is a lively track that puts me in mind musically of the band Reckless Kelly, to which Crosby once toured with as a guitar player. Lyrically there is a lonely desperation, that is palpable and makes me yearn for an impromptu road trip. Not because I have somewhere to go but because I simply need to be moving along.
Offering a big musical shift, “Hold This Town Together” also feels different vocally with a slow measured quality that works well to convey the ragged seams of a threadbare kind of town and its people desperately trying to make it feel like home. The fourth track “Laramie’ is arguably the best written of the bunch. A dark and brooding reflection of lost love you can feel the icy streets beneath your feet as you listen.
“Out Of My Hands” finishes the first half of the album with a dreamlike vocal style that conjures thoughts of Orbison, though lyrically it did not speak as loudly for me as the other songs comprising Northstar. The self-depreciating track “Liability” is a meandering song that feels exactly like a woeful stream of conscious that we have all let ourselves slip into, and here it feels like a classic drink-in-hand kind of number.
The sad refrains continue with “Born To Be Lonely” though the honky-tonk sound lends a different quality to this track, making it feel more upbeat than a closer listen at the lyrics would suggest. I like this slight conflict as it gives a nostalgic spin to the overall feeling of the song. “Heart On My Sleeve” is a duet and Lauren Farrah helps draw out a mournful side of love that pairs perfectly with the slow fiddle present in the track’s more powerful moments.
“My Mother’s God” ushers back in a more upbeat tempo, though there is still that longing spirit of regret tinged hope. The vocals at times reminded me of James McMurtry and given that you can feel every word here the comparison can be extended beyond vocal tone.
Closing out the album, “Red White Black and Blue” delivers a somber tone at a methodical pace. A songwriter’s track that might miss its mark upon the first listen this final number is a bit slow to reveal its emotions, but then again, aren’t we all. Lucky for us, we have music to help express the thoughts and feelings lurking inside us all.
Travis Erwin is a published author of numerous books, novels, and articles. Follow him on twitter @traviserwin to talk about this review, or music in general. Look for his body of work wherever you shop for books.

Mar 24, 2020

Album Review / Trigger Hippy / Full Circle & Then Some

By Travis Erwin
The title of Trigger Hippy’s latest album, Full Circle & Then Some is fitting in so many ways given the journey that the individual members have taken to find each other and form this collective. And, the title also is indicative of the band’s sound which often circles back to replicate sounds of other, memorable music which gives these tracks a jam band kind of vibe, that showcases the talent at hand without fully establishing a definitive essence for Trigger Hippy themselves. On this, the sophomore album for the band, it still feels at times as if the band is trying to establish precisely what they will become. That is not to say the insane amount of talent does not deliver a richness of sound and the strength of this collection is the obvious musicianship and the variation delivered both vocally and in the musical styles.
The album opens with Don’t Wanna Bring You Down, a track with a Southern Rock and Roll Funk vibe, complete with a lively groove and layered harmonies. A hard drum beat ushers in The Butcher’s Daughter which for me conjured thoughts of Dusty Springfield with its narrative soulful vocals.


Strung Out On The Pain is my favorite track among the dozen making up this album. Delivering the aura of old school country song from the late 80’s or early 90s this is a song that you can either two-step through the pain to, or kick back with whiskey in hand and reflect while your body goes numb.
The jam band spirit lands hard on Born To Be Blue. This eight plus minute track is long on ethereal intro mood setting, before the harmonies roll in like ocean waves some two minutes in. Overall, this one felt a bit like Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride and hit me as a song meant to fire one up and burn it down without ever having to change grooves. The end of the track settles into what I’d describe as a nice underwater conversation with a friendly whale.
The Door opened with a vocal style that brought to mind Harper Valley PTA before layering in a melody reminiscent at times of the recently departed, Kenny Roger’s Love Will Turn You Around and it was such blends of recognizable elements of music past, that kept me from ever completely settling into this album.
The title track, Full Circle and Then Some lands square in the middle of the cuts and as I stated in the opening paragraph is spot on in capturing the theme. The focus lyrically is on an old relationship and comes via a rocking soulful style that is as smooth and easy to listen to, and sing along with. A bluesy harmonica and low, lazy days of summer vocal style, clean and pure and direct delivers Dandelion.
Adding to the plethora of sounds, Goddamn Hurricane comes with a bluegrass vibe that feels a lot like a new track from the deeply missed band, The Gourds. That funky string arrangement vocal style made this my second favorite song among the twelve offerings. Long Lost Friend gives us tinkle keys and a honey sweet vocal groove. Fans of The Tractors and Confederate Railroad will enjoy One Of Them for its boogie beat and harmonious bounce.


Ironically, Low Down Country Song just might be the purest rock song on the album. That said it is still far more real, genuine, and thereby country, than damn near anything you will hear on Mainstream Country radio where everyone is hell-bent to be a Hip-Hop Pop star while dancing in bedazzled jeans on a jacked up truck’s tailgate as they sing about cliched dirt roads. Speaking of roads, Paving The Road closes out the album with an entirely different sound vocally.
Where exactly the road leads for Trigger Hippy remains to be seen, as the band has now given us two albums each with a slightly different lineup. There is promise of a bright future given the incredible talent present across this spectrum of styles and sounds. The harbingers of these talented musicians’ pasts lingers within these songs and while I appreciate the difficulty of launching new creative projects without bringing some elements of that with you, I found myself often comparing the tracks here to something that came before it. Talent and experience are great things to have, and as this band forms more of an identity tied solely to their existence, I expect Trigger Hippy to take aim with even more precision.  
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Travis Erwin is an author and freelance author. His work ranges from the comedic memoir, THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES to the emotional novel WAITING ON THE RIVER, and includes the Townes Van Zandt inspired TWISTED ROADS. You can contact Travis via Twitter @TravisErwin or find his music reviews across a number of outlets.

Feb 6, 2020

Album Review / John Moreland / LP5


By Travis Erwin
John Moreland's latest offering, LP5, delivers the same acoustic sensibilities we have come to expect, while showcasing his notable evolution as an artist and as a human. The end product for the listener is honest, thought-provoking songwriting, delivered with authentic emotion.
The album opens with tender guitar notes pulling you into the single “Harder Dreams,” though Moreland’s poignant lyrics soon take over. And while it is hard not to get lost in the calm tones of his voice, the songwriting is what truly elevates both this track, and the entire album. The lines …   Are you lonely in your convictions, staring through the glass tonight? Is the truth a work of fiction, better ask the blood-stained skies … stuck out for me, but the emotional imagery within this opening song is gripping. This opening track foretells what’s to come, in terms of quality of sound, songwriting prowess, and in the teasing the overriding theme.
With a bit more of a bluesy funk, “A Thought is Just a Passing Train” offers a different vocal style than the rest of the album. At nearly five and half minutes long, this second track has a jam groove that sort of relaxes your senses and allows you to close your eyes and settle in for the long haul. But don’t dismiss the power of the lyrics, because we’ve all been hit hard by an emotion, fear, or doubt, and this song is all about recognizing the brevity of such gut punches.
“East October” is the kind of track that subtly reveals itself. Painted with broad strokes in places and refined thoughts in others, the track repeatedly asks the question, … How Am I ever going to get by, all my myself? The song left me thinking about a divorced man reflecting on the memorabilia of a marriage gone bad. Though the fact it was written with a nod to Chris Porter’s song, “East December,” makes it clear Moreland wrote it from more of a grieving friend’s viewpoint. Porter passed away in 2016. That such a song can be parlayed into broader emotion is more proof of Moreland’s talent for bringing forth our humanity.
My personal favorite track on the album is “Learning How to Tell Myself the Truth." The song delivers unrelenting truth. Coming via a stream-of-consciousness style, the track brings out the nuances of Moreland’s emotional vocals. This track is the musical equivalent of staring into the mirror and talking to the person looking back. 
“Two Stars” is a soft guitar instrumental that bridges the gap over to “Terrestrial,” another track about overcoming the self-doubt and uncertainty that washes over all of us at times. Discovering what is real both within our own heads and the outside world around us is the prevailing thought behind much of this well-written album. 
Moreland again pays homage to his friend, Chris Porter, with the track “In Between Times.” Written a mere two weeks after Porter’s untimely passing, Moreland puts words to the kind of grief that often leaves others speechless. The pain is palpable, and his voice is raw, over a stripped-down melody. 
Not known for love songs, Moreland proves he can take on the most vulnerable of emotions with “When My Fever Breaks,” a track he began writing, while first dating his wife. The song took him more than three years to finish, but the result is a song that stays with you. It feels genuine without resorting to being overly sentimental, simply for the sake of the poetry.
“I Always Let You Burn Me to the Ground,” feels like a goodbye, not in the literal sense, but in the admission of our own weaknesses, so that we can finally let the ashes of our past blow away in the wind. “For Ichiro” is another instrumental track that serves as an emotional reset. This track has a digital vibe laid over keys and a guitar, making it feel slightly out of place with the album, though it is tranquil and entertaining enough to certainly have merit.
The album finishes with “Let Me Be Understood,” which is fitting, because I imagine this is the internal plea of every songwriter, when they release new material out into the world. But here, this track is about growth and wisdom that comes to us on down the road, giving us a new outlook over hindsight. Bluesy and folksy, the track brings forth many of Moreland’s best sounds, both musically and vocally, and as always, the songwriting is relatable and makes you ponder your place in this world.
Or perhaps more importantly, the song and the album are meant to reinforce the fact we all have these complex thoughts and emotion running through our heads.  And the lasting message is that it's okay to let them in, because we will emerge on the other side all the better for having them. As a writer and fan of his work, I hope that is what Moreland wanted understood, but no matter the intent, his new album, LP5 is definitely worth your listen. 

LP5 is available Friday everywhere you buy or stream music.
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A native Texan, Travis Erwin is an author and music reviewer now living in Southern California. Find his novels and memoir, anywhere books are sold, or visit him in the Twitterverse, via @traviserwin.

Oct 11, 2019

Album Review / Chris Knight / Almost Daylight

By Travis Erwin
Somebody killed somebody songs. That’s the foundation of Chris Knight’s reputation as a songwriter and we’ve all seen the memes. They are funny and bring a smile, but those of us who call ourselves fans of Knight’s work can appreciate the truth of that reputation, as well our realization he routinely brings so much more than death and despair to his music. Under the layers of grit and Kentucky sweat, there is an authenticity that makes Knight’s words relatable. In that vein, his songs often offer the idea of hope, springing  from places of desperation. 
That said, Chris truly is “The Dark Knight of Country Music” and no contemporary delivers such heavy brooding emotion with such captivating integrity. His new album, Almost Daylight delivers a whole bunch of what we expect out of Knight, and a few surprises as well. 
Vocally there is that signature gruffness that has only grown more pronounced in the seven years since his last release, but given that Knight was never exactly a crooner in the first place, the influences of time upon his voice only intensifies the hardscrabble emotion of his work. Do I think this is his best work? No, for me the album was good, but never quite delivered the emotional hook of Knight’s best works. That is not to say, Almost Daylight is not a quality album, though for me, the songs often fell just short of their potential. 
The album opens with “I’m William Callahan” and this is the type of song that Knight has made a career of -- A hard luck character digging for purchase in life. This track does not stray far from that though it does feel a bit more dependent on guitar melodies and arrangement to deliver the mood rather than the emotional imagery Knight has done so well cultivating in the past. 
Like weeds sprouting from a windblown crack of earth, “Crooked Mile” is song is about a couple of so-called bad seeds who will grow just fine, if only the world will leave them alone. The imagery is great and the song memorable, though in the end, I found myself wishing for more to their story. 
The third track is called “I Won’t Look Back,” and leaving the pain of the past is the theme. Just as the title states, the character plans to leave without looking back. The writing is sharp and feels like vintage Knight, which stands in contrast to the following track. “Go On” is as close to a motivational tale as you’re likely to find from Knight, and though it toes the line the track stays just shy of sappiness in the chorus.  
These are indeed divided times we live but even with that fact at hand, the fifth track on the album seemed oddly out of character. Knight has used his talent as a songwriter to often uncover commonalities among us. Dark and light, these collective truths of humanity are delivered from his brand of storytelling as delivered by the downtrodden and fallen. There is no denying the world we live is full of lies these days, and yes, that is the “The Damn Truth,” just as Knight sings. However, it is impossible see truth when viewing the world with only our right, or left eye. This track didn’t offer any real truths, only more divisive political pandering in a society already ripe with too much of that.
The album gets back on track with “Send It On Down” featuring Lee Ann Womack. This is the tale of a man lost in his hometown. A place he doesn’t quite fit in anymore. If in fact, he ever did. 
Anyone that has ever had a long hard night of too much thinking and wondering has sought the solace of daybreak, hoping for the sun to chase away the demons of the night. The title track plays with that idea as well as life on the road and the importance of having someone waiting back home. While it did take me a few listens to get the full effect of these lyrics, ”Almost Daylight” is easily the best song among the eleven. Nuanced and complex, this is a set of lyrics that will mean many things to many different people. It is this kind of writing and nod to universal emotion that has made Knight one of the best songwriters going for over two decades. 
“Trouble Up Ahead” is classic Chris Knight tale of doom, despair, and desperation. You can feel the Kentucky sweat on the back of your neck, and the grit on your teeth after listening to this track. The harmonica on “Everybody’s Lonely Now” adds to the melody which for Knight is almost upbeat. 
Chris Knight is not a man who does many covers, but his take of Johnny Cash’s “Flesh and Blood,” feels fresh and authentic. Knight does a great job of making the track feel as if it is one of his own creations. For me, this is the second best cut on the album.
Closing with another cover, Knight joins yet again with John Prine on a version of the latter’s 1973 classic, “Mexican Home.” Together, Knight and Prine, make the strong imagery come alive as they transport the listener to a different time and place.
My takeaway is this … Almost Daylight is a solid album that will speak to longstanding Chris Knight fans, and deliver what they have come to expect while also presenting a few new variables to his writing. I am not sure the album will do much more than that, as it falls short of the high standards Knight has set in the past. Outside of the title track, I am not sure any of these cuts will be regarded among his best.
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Travis Erwin is a fiction writer, lyricist, and music critic. A native Texan, Travis now calls the West Coast home. His fiction can be found anywhere books are sold, and you can reach him on twitter @traviserwin or via comment on this post.

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