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Chris Knight

The decrepit, dirty-dealing and down-and-out find their voice in Chris Knight's songs, which transplant the working-class realities and resilience of Bruce Springsteen's mustang-wielding union loyalists to farm country. They share a similar spirit, from the nihilistic meth dealer just making a buck on "Hell Ain't Half Full" to the hard-luck mugger of "If I Were You" and the hard-drinking backhoe driver who married his pregnant girlfriend at 18 and concludes you can't hang yourself if you ain't got "Enough Rope." Initially inspired by Steve Earle, Knight works from that same rocking country blueprint, but the gold isn't in his amped-up twang, but the harrowing lyricism authentic enough for a historical society. This comes abundantly clear on 2007's The Trailer Tapes, featuring raw, heart-stopping tracks recorded with just an acoustic guitar in '96 before he was signed. They crackle with passion and immediacy reminiscent of Springsteen's Nebraska, showcasing a gift as big as the state. Knight follows it up next week with Trailer II, featuring more demos of songs that'd find their way onto his first few albums. The vivid detail and emotion of his songs already rival the best alt-country has to offer, now it's simply a matter of spreading the word.

 
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