KNIGHT, CHRIS

KNIGHT, CHRIS
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Almost Daylight CD € 14.90 Info
Almost Daylight LP € 19.90 Info

Seitdem der Name Chris Knight vor gut 8 Jahren das erste Mal aufgetaucht ist, spielt der Singer/Songwriter aus Kentucky (mit Arbeitsplatz in Nashville) ganz oben in der Americana/Country (Rock) Liga! Mit "Enough Rope" legt er nun sein 4. Album vor, das endgültig richten soll, was Fachleute und zahlreiche Fans schon lange wissen: Chris Knight ist ein toller Typ und schreibt gnadenlos erstklassige Songs und es wäre ein großer Frevel, wenn die Welt die nicht hören würde!!

Bereits das selbstbetitelte Debüt "Chris Knight" von Anfang 98 besaß solch kapitale Nummern wie 'It Ain't Easy Being Me', 'The Hammer Going Down', 'Love And A.45', 'The River's Own' oder 'Framed' und wurde völlig zu Recht mit Steve Earle und insbesondere mit dessen früher Erfolgsplatte "Guitar Town" verglichen. Trotz einiger Hits im Countrylager blieb der ganz große Durchbruch wegen Problemen mit der siechenden Plattenfirma (Decca US) aus. Erst 3 ½ Jahre später gab's den Nachfolger "A Pretty Good Guy" auf dem jungen, aufstrebenden Dualtone Label. Mit einem neuen Produktions/Recording Team (Dan Baird & Joe Hardy) schuf Knight eine sehr persönliche, fast konzepthafte Songsammlung, die jeden Verdacht auf ein weiteres Steve Earle-"Plagiat" im Nu wegblies, sich in so mancher CD-Sammlung neben Bruce Springsteen, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt und Joe Ely wiederfindet. Neben den AAA-Radiosongs 'Send A Boat', 'Becky's Bible' und 'Highway Junkie' wurde 'Oil Patch Town' zu einem überraschenden Videohit auf CMT. Doch auch hier verhinderte höhere Gewalt eine noch größere Aufmerksamkeit, die angesichts der Gesamtqualität des Materials zweifellos berechtigt gewesen wäre: Release Date war ausgerechnet der 11.9.2001 und danach setzte man in den Staaten bekanntlich andere Prioritäten... Album # 3, "The Jealous Kind", war im Spätsommer 2003 der Einstieg bei Blue Rose und verknüpfte die besten Elemente der beiden Vorläufer zu einem hochwertigen Songzirkel mit praktisch selbsterklärenden Titeln wie 'A Train Not Running', 'Me And This Road', 'Devil Behind The Wheel', 'Long Black Highway' und 'Broken Plow'. Wie schon auf A Pretty Good Guy führten die renommierten Dan Baird und Joe Hardy gemeinsam Studioregie. Als Musiker hatten sie lokale Topleute verpflichtet, die für die raueren, non-mainstream Klänge in Nashville garantierten.

"Enough Rope" knüpft grundsätzlich dort an, ist eher noch mächtiger und kantiger geraten! Chris Knight beweist, dass er so Heartland-mäßig rocken kann wie Earle, Ely, Mellencamp und classic Springsteen zusammen, findet aber zwischendurch immer mal wieder Zeit, seine ländliche Herkunft in akustischen Country/Folk-Balladen zu verewigen. Die Szenarien und Charaktere in seinen Liedern gehören mehrheitlich zur Schattenseite in all den anonymen Small Towns im weiten, einsamen Herzen Amerikas. Stücke wie 'Cry Lonely', 'River Road', 'Rural Route', 'Dirt', 'Up From The Hill', 'To Get Back Home', 'Old Man' und 'Bridle On A Bull' sind kleine Road Movies oder gar richtige "4-Minuten-Kinofilme" mit Handlung und Plot. Da reicht zwar auch mal eine einzige akustische Gitarre plus Fiddle als Begleitung - wie auf dem Titeltrack -, meistens wird aber eine volle Band eingesetzt, die sich nahezu Dukes/E-Street Band-like präsentiert, komplett mit elektrischen Gitarren, Pedal Steel oder Lap Steel, Orgel, dynamischer Rhythm Section und Backing Vocals.

Namentlich haben wir es bei diesem extrem überzeugenden Werk mit solch hochdotierten Studiomusikern wie Kenny Greenberg, Pat Buchanan, Dan Dugmore, Richard Bennett, Michael Rhodes, Greg Morrow, Tammy Rogers, Ashley Cleveland u.a. zu tun. Chris Knight singt dazu mit einer markanten, eindeutig Texas-gefärbten Stimme - ähnlich Robert Earl Keen mit einer gehörigen Portion Mellencamp & Earle -, das gewisse Südstaaten-Timbre klebt halt für ewig auf den Stimmbändern. Von den 13 neuen Tracks hat Produzent Gary Nicholson (Delbert McClinton, Lee Roy Parnell, Stephen Bruton, Kevin Welch) rund die Hälfte co-geschrieben, das gesamte Album in Nashville produziert und mit Ray Kennedy & John Hurley (Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, Cindy Bullens, Reckless Kelly) in einem Sound ohne irgendwelche Kompromisse an gängige Markttrends aufgenommen.


“This record rocks a little harder,” Chris Knight says of his new album "Enough Rope", “…and the body count’s not as high,” he adds with a laugh. The mere fact that the notoriously taciturn loner is laughing is indication enough of a surprising new maturity. Can it be that the singer/songwriter The New York Times once called “the last of a dying breed… a hard-nosed iconoclast with an acoustic guitar and a college degree” has grown up? “I think so,” Chris admits. “On this album, I did a lot of thinking about saying things that were less angry and maybe more rational. I’m not as pissed off as I used to be. I’m conscious of not wanting to become a caricature and the songs on this album tell a different kind of story.” But despite even the presence of several honest-to-greatness love songs, "Enough Rope" stands tall as classic Chris Knight: Sometimes dark, often intense and always without compromise. It is an album that unfolds with the power and fury of Cormac McCarthy meets Copperhead Road.

“I think it’s just human nature for people to have first impressions that stick,” explains producer Gary Nicholson, the Grammy-winner known for his work with artists ranging from Wynonna to Delbert McClinton. “With this album, we wanted to bring out parts of Chris that people might not see. He has sides to him other than just songs about guns and knives and murder and revenge.” The result is an album that’s sonically far richer than Knight’s previous discs, complete with tracks that range from whomping hard rock to straight-up melodic groove. What has remained consistent is Knight’s extraordinary gift for storytelling. Through it all, Nicholson and mixer Ray Kennedy build a measured collage of electric and acoustic guitars, fiddle, viola, steel, B3 and beyond that shade, slap and sear every picture to perfection. The violent protagonist of “Jack Blue” learns to battle his personal demons to a draw, while the mean-tempered narrator of “Bridle On A Bull” rides a hard snarl of slide guitar to a resigned fate. “Cry Lonely” is a love song twang-tinged with a soul-baring melancholy and “Saved By Love” is a clear-eyed ode to the tender embrace of redemption. “River Road” choogles like some bastard child of John Fogerty and Johnny Rivers, “To Get Back Home” is a rarely-heard howl of life on the road and “Up From The Hill” unleashes a roar of rage and reverb that should send most young rock bands whimpering home in shame. Longtime fans will welcome the fiercely plaintive “William’s Son”, a revisiting of the stunner that closed his debut album. The album’s title track is easily one of Knight’s greatest compositions, the simple portrait of a man who walks the line with equal parts grace and regret to a quietly devastating close. “I don’t have a technical grasp on writing songs or recording, but it all basically comes from the gut,” Chris says. “If it doesn’t, I don’t have a song I want.”

Knight’s own story begins six miles outside of Slaughters, Kentucky, a remote coalmining town of 200 people where Knight was raised and still lives with his wife and children on 40 wooded acres. Chris graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1984 with a degree in agriculture and began working for the state as a strip-mine reclamation inspector. Following his mother’s death in 1992, he began writing songs about the people, places and pain that he’s seen, known and continues to live.
Reaction to his 1998 debut album "Chris Knight" – which included the hit Americana and AAA tracks ”It Ain’t Easy Being Me,” “Framed” and “Love And A .45” – was immediate, with writers nationwide comparing him to everyone from John Prine and Neil Young to Johnny Cash and Nebraska-era Springsteen. In 2001, Chris returned with "A Pretty Good Guy", taking listeners on a stripped down journey through a far darker side of survival. Despite being released on 9/11, the often brutally bleak album received stellar reviews as well as strong AAA airplay. His 2003 release "The Jealous Kind" added a new wit and wisdom that led Playboy to rave “Knight can break your heart with his singing, but the songwriting here is even stronger” and rock publication Blender to hail its plain-spoken brawn.

For now, "Enough Rope" stands as an unprecedented testament to Knight’s artistic evolution, as well as the album that will finally kick down the doors of success on Knight’s own terms. “When you have you have something that qualifies as a successful artistic endeavor,” says Nicholson, “it shows the commonality of human experience. That’s what Chris is a master at: He’s able to invite you into his world and you’re able to identify with the same emotions he’s expressed. He consistently pulls that off like never before.” “Breakthrough music always defies the norm,” Ray Kennedy explains, “The longest running careers are the ones that rub against the grain and don’t fit in. I think Chris Knight is one of the premiere singer/songwriters of our time and it’s way past time that the rest of the world finds that out. If there’s any justice in the world, this will be held up as one of the great albums out there.”
“I’m just carrying on, trying to figure out how to make a better record every time,” is all Chris will say of the album’s ultimate destiny. “I imagine I’m in this for life. When I’m 60, I’ll probably be in a Suburban pulling a trailer headed to a show. I’ll probably have to get a younger band by then, though.” And to maybe even his own surprise, Chris Knight laughs again.

One Response to “Artists”

  • Halldor sagt:

    Hi,
    When is the new Elliott Murphy CD coming out (Ricochet, I believe it is called)
    thx
    Halldor

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