Tonight and Wednesday: Chris Knight at McGonigel's Mucky Duck

Is it just me, or do all Chris Knight records sound the same? With Texan David Grissom driving the sessions in 1997, Knight’s sonic template was set with his first release Chris Knight, and his hard twang formula hasn’t been tinkered with much since. Quite successfully, I might add.

Heart of Stone, Knight’s latest, is produced by Georgia Satellite guitar whacker Dan Baird, who deserves credit for not straying much from Knight’s time-proven country-rock sound. Like 2006’s Enough Rope, the new one is filled with the usual Knight subject matter that has much in common with the repeated themes in James McMurtry‘s work: being on the road (“Homesick Gypsy,” “Something to Keep Me Going”), broken homes (“Heart of Stone”), getting married too young (“Crooked Road”), marital abuse (“Danville“), cars (“My Old Cars”), and cooking meth (“Hell Ain’t Half Full”).

Like McMurtry, one of Knight’s greatest strengths as a writer is his uncanny barometer for rural folks and their moods; with “down the road, going nowhere, down the road, I’m almost there” he tells us all we need to know about the mood out beyond the big cities. Whatever the subject, Knight continues to perform moves that make him one of Americana’s first tier writers; lines like “I used to run from the past, but the world got to spinning so fast, I run from the future now” are pure thinking redneck’s gold, and so is this riveting set - even if it does sound just like a Chris Knight album. - William Michael Smith

7:30 p.m. tonight and Wednesday at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 713-528-5999. $15.

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William Michael Smith