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Chris Knight

Chris Knight – 1998 (Decca)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Chris Knight

For the people who have simplified their lives by neatly compartmentalizing country music as "major label bad, independent label good," Chris Knight complicates things severely. Musically and vocally, Knight is more or less equal parts Steve Earle, John Prine and Robert Earl Keen. There's nothing really original there, though nothing normally associated with "Nashville" either. It's also a plus that Knight doesn't evoke the same artist on every song.

Like those three artists, and others of their ilk, Knight's reputation will depend on the lyrics he writes. On that count, he scores quite well. Knight's songs are musical stories. They're the kind of lyrics that need to be heard in their entirety rather than thriving on clever, quotable, couplets. There are some recurring themes - notably one of "I Fought The Law (and The Law Won").

In fact, it's possible that a gun permit may be required in some states before purchasing this album, because there are an awful lot of shots fired ("Love And a .45"). But however dark may be the lives of many of his characters, Knight paints their stories colorfully - and entertainingly. Knight well deserves his buzz as one of the better singer-songwriters around.