Published Oct 09, 2019Rustic romantic Chris Knight is simultaneously one of country music's most revered and ignored artists; Almost Daylight is his first album in seven years. Approaching 60, Knight explores brighter aspects of his artistic character, finding satisfaction in a pasture poet's well-lived legacy. That he manages to do so without compromising his distinctive vision is commendable.
Knight has always presented himself as rural outsider, rivalling Fred Eaglesmith — with whom he wrote the Americana classic, "Love and a .45" — with his ability to create character sketches of acute vividness. Knight assumes personas as readily as Eaglesmith. The anger of the frustrated citizen in "The Damned Truth" is imparted with the same vigour as the stubbornly proud ne'er-do-well of "Won't Look Back." By exploring perseverance, love, relational reality and faithful hope Knight reveals shades only previously presented in passing.
Knight's voice is now as gnarled as the stubborn pride with which some of his creations live, but is no less captivating for its road-hewn weariness. Almost Daylight contains the first covers to appear on a Knight recording, a bright, almost 20-year-old take of Johnny Cash's "Flesh and Blood" and a reworking of "Mexican Home," on which he is joined by its songwriter, John Prine.
With vibrant instrumental backing including guitars from Dan Baird, Almost Daylight is Knight's most fully produced recording. For all its instrumental and vocal accruements — and there is no shortage — it remains an intimate recording, Knight's confident presence the assuring connection. (Drifter's Church)