Chris Knight, The Jealous Kind (Dualtone, 2003)

Never heard of Chris Knight before, but here's his third album. The New York Times says he's "the last of a dying breed...a hard-nosed iconoclast...a grown-up Huck Finn with an acoustic guitar [and a] college degree." Hmmm. Okay, I'll buy that. There sure is a good sound coming out of the speakers when you play this album. It's not completely original, a bit of John Mellencamp, a touch of the Boss, maybe even some Steve Earle, but the songs are fine.

Knight comes from Kentucky, was born there and lives there still. He says, "I've always known where I wanted to live. I never wanted to live in a city. I never wanted to live near anybody...I've never been a town person...we're country people." And he sounds like it. There's a distinct country feel to this rock'n'roll. Or is it...a distinct rock'n'roll feel to this country? Either way, this is one hot record.

Fronting a band which features guitarists Bob Britt, Dan Baird and Ty Tyler, Keith Christopher (bass) and Greg Morrow on drums, Knight plays acoustic guitar and sings in a tough drawl. The sound is fleshed out by a cadre of guest musicians, supplying keyboards, strings, more guitars and harmonies. The songs themselves are workmanlike story-songs, all written (or co-written) by Chris Knight. The co-writers are some of the best songsmiths working in the business; Gary Nicholson, Chuck Prophet and Austin Cunningham (among others).

The title song is not the old rock standard but a new song called "The Jealous Kind":

I got a letter from Maria
you know her English ain't that good
but what she meant was easily understood
if I'm gonna keep her I better get there quick
the thought of her with someone else just makes me sick

Plain speaking, good old three chord progressions, man, this is my kind of music. "Banging Away" is an anthemic rocker about three different kinds of banging...use your imagination.

Composed with Christie Sutherland, "The Border" uses a familiar image (a border dive near Brownsville) to tell a familiar tale, in a familiar style, and yet Knight pulls it off in a completely original way. Very tricky! The whole album is a bit like that. You'll swear you've heard it before, but the songs are new. The heavy guitar ambience, and Chris Knight's strong personality wins the day. Whether he's singing about "Staying Up All Night Long," or "A Train Not Running;" "Me and This Road," or the "Long Black Highway" he puts a new spin on an old story. Fresh music from Kentucky.

[David Kidney]

You can find Dualtone Records online here
Chris Knight has a Web site too