The characters in Chris Knight’s songs are most likely alone, though not by choice. Odds are they’re driving too fast, fueled by coffee or chemicals. They may or may not have a gun. Going home again is not an option. The damage on The Jealous Kind, his third album, includes a closed mine, a shut down ferry, a Texaco robbery, two totaled Coupe de Villes, and a Christmas case of domestic violence.
Any of these tunes would have fit nicely on Knight’s other records (in fact, four of these tracks began as demos for his second album). Some might say he’s stuck in a rut, but Knight may be guilty of no greater crime than finding his groove.
There’s not a lot of happy here. You won’t find the tongue-in-cheek humor of past highlights such as “A Pretty Good Guy” or “It Ain’t Easy Being Me”. Knight again works with producer Dan Baird (with assistance from Joe Hardy), and they maintain an earnest pace that complements the stark subject matter of the songs.
“Broken Plow”, an acoustic dustbowl ballad, plays out like a Walker Evans photograph. “Long Black Highway” is your typical fingerpicked double-murder ghost story. “Banging Away”, with an accordion riff that brings to mind John Mellencamp, stands as the album’s lone rocker.
These songs mix acoustic and electric guitars with B-3 organ, bouzouki, pedal and lap steel, and fiddle. Particular standouts are Tammy Rogers on fiddle and Dan Dugmore on steel. Matraca Berg and Christy Sutherland contribute impressive harmony vocals.