Chris is a rough-hewn, detail-driven alt-country singer/songwriter—imagine a prepoliticized Steve Earle borrowing John Mellencamp’s larynx. The Slaughters, Ky., native’s songwriting is only getting more focused with time, as heard on this fine fourth effort. These carefully honed character sketches and surely paced narratives evoke real rural life more accurately and honestly than most anything you’ll hear on country radio—not just the glory and the romance of ordinary Southern existence, but the darkness and the disappointments. Chris Knight’s characters have dirt under their fingernails and life behind their eyes.
In the summer of 1996 inside a sweltering singlewide trailer outside a small Kentucky mining town, an unknown singer-songwriter named Chris Knight recorded an ‘unofficial’ batch of tracks prior to the release of his major label debut album. Over the next decade, through a combination of leaks, bootlegs and legend, those sessions would become something much more. “People have been talking about these tapes ever since I recorded them,” Chris Knight says. “To me, they were rough and stark and I never thought they’d see the light of day.” Ten years and four acclaimed albums later, The Trailer Tapes remain a remarkable moment in time less captured than cornered, a portrait of the artist as a ferociously talented young man. And for the artist The New York Times would soon call “the last of a dying breed…a hard-nosed iconoclast with an acoustic guitar and a college degree”, The Trailer Tapes have now arrived as the long-missing first chapter of one of the most uncompromising careers in music today.