Ten years and five acclaimed albums into one of the most uncompromising careers in American music, the singer/songwriter whose work has been compared to Prine, Cash and Nebraska-era Springsteen by some the toughest music writers in America may have finally conquered his most demanding critic of all: himself.
"Right now, this is my favorite record," Chris Knight says of his new album, Heart Of Stone. "It might just be my best. For some reason, there's a cohesiveness here that's not like anything I've done before. But at the same time, it's not real predictable. There's a lot of texture to it as well, but it's a simple record. I don't know how that happened. But I know it when I hear it."
Then again, Knight has always been an artist of fierce instinct and uncommon paradox. A former strip-mine reclamation inspector, Knight still lives in the rural coal town of Slaughters,
Kentucky (population 200) where he was born and raised. But it's been on record – as well as everywhere from rowdy Texas roadhouses to hushed New York City theaters – where Chris has forged the reputation for a stark and often-ferocious honesty that led one writer to call hismusic "where Cormac McCarthy meets Copperhead Road."
"I still don't know what to call myself," says Chris. "When people ask me what kind of music I play, I tell 'em my music is country and rock and folk and roots rock and even pop. I think this album sounds that way, too." Produced by Dan Baird (of Georgia Satellites fame, as well as producer of Knight's widely-praised A Pretty Good Guy and The Jealous Kind discs), the 12 songs on Heart Of Stone represent a creative maturity unlike anything Knight has done before. The music itself is a richly organic sonic mosaic where snarling guitars and pounding drums live alongside mournful violas, plucky banjos, B-3 organ and even the occasional trombone and bouzouki. And for an artist known for his narratives about busted lives and broken dreams, Knight's new songs now carry a hard