1 – If Phil Ochs used to write most of his songs by opening up the newspaper, most of the recent generation of Texas country rockers open up an atlas. Luckily, Chris Knight’s an adopted Texan from Kentucky who’s never felt the need to resort to that strategy.
2 – Knight, in fact, who will probably remind you of Steve Earle as you get to know his stuff, is a fine songwriter in his own right with a definite fixation on the gothic aspects of hillbilliana, and shows a healthy mistrust of certain Americana-syndrome production values on his Trailer Tapes album (dribbling B-3 organs, truck commercial Telecasters, overdrawn vocal drawls). Most Knight songs, in other words, leave behind a virtual corpse or two.
3 – Knight’s got a knowing look in his eye that contrasts pretty sharply with the blank frat faces that populate his shows and sing along to every word. Wonder what he’s thinkin’ up there.
4 – Knight’s hoarse Appalachian speaking voice is more grizzled and crusty and grammatically mangled than you’d expect after hearing his ability to turn a phrase in songs. (“I’ll bet y’all a bunch a tourist-ers,” he twice croaked to the Historic Gruene Hall crowd at historically low speed.) Authentic? Not necessarily an easy one because the shtick almost comes off as a put on, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.