Bottom Line:Every great artist reaches a point in their career where they are secure enough about themselves that they can let go of worries about making music for the suits or for the charts and just make music that matters. Travis Tritt has always bucked the system just a little, depending strongly on his powerhouse voice and crystalline talent to actually manage to get the radio play eluding his peers, but with his new release, The Storm, he thumbs his nose at convention and just hits hard and strong with an album that stands as pure, unadulterated, musical art. Plus, it's got a beat and you can dance to it.
It takes a strong artist to thumb their nose at the conventions governing their slotted genre and produce music that has more than just a convenient label for marketing reps to make sales. Very many artists lately have taken this route and stepped away from the slot the stores keep them in to make music that is special; musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Michelle Shocked, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Marty Stuart - and now Travis Tritt joins them on that elite bandwagon, leaving behind a neat and tidy niche to break out with a powerhouse disc, blending his bluesy, honky-tonk roots with his own distinct, gravely sound to present what may be the best disc of his pretty damned already-stellar career. It wasn't without reason that Waylon Jennings claimed Travis Tritt was about the only one with any talent performing in Nashville in the mid-nineties - and it took someone with Waylon's legendary blunt honesty to say it, too. Now a decade later Tritt has of course pulled down numerous platinum disc sales, two Grammys, and any number of other awards, but as with all great artists of his calibre, he's not getting a lot of radio air play. (Although Tritt has done better than some - but I put that down to his obvious genius, as well as some savvy marketing. And, I will admit flat out, I stopped listening to "country" radio pretty much completely about five years ago, so for all I know, maybe they ARE still playing him regularly - but I have to say it would surprise me to find out.)
The trouble with music like this is, of course, no one "gets it." Mainstream "country" listeners think it sounds like R&B while rock/blues listeners hear "cornpone country." Billboard says of the first single, the swinging "You Never Take Me Dancing," "...enough percussive kick to make this the next great country line dance." Um, excuse me? LINE dance? No self- respecting real country listener, who still listens to Travis Tritt, would be caught dead line- dancing to this (or any other good Americana song). You can swing to it, you can two-step, you might even get in a good rock-n-roll dance going, but this is a song you dance with your partner to, holding hands or even a little cheek-to-cheek. Line dances have been out pretty much since they came in for real honky-tonkers. Line dances are for office Christmas parties where the women outnumber the men six to one. Anyway, that aside, Travis has hit his new record label at a strong run and it's going to take some work to top this one. His voice is at its rough-and-rowdy best, his choice of songs perfect, everything is right on the razor's edge. This is where Tritt was aimed right from the start, and it's nice to see him getting here at long last. Now it's time for him and his former partner, fellow genre-bending artist Marty Stuart, to get back together for a collaboration. It makes me breathless to consider what they could do together NOW.
- "Mudcat Moan" prelude/You Never Take Me Dancing
- (I Wanna) Feel Too Much
- Doesn't The Good Outweigh The Bad
- What If Love Hangs On
- Rub Off On Me
- Something Stronger Than Me
- The Storm
- I Don't Know How I Got By
- The Pressure Is On
- Should've Listened
- High Time For Gettin' Down
- Somehow, Somewhere, Someway