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Big City Blues

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Album Review

Coming nearly a decade after Keith Gattis' self-titled RCA album, his one and only major-label recording, Big City Blues is quite the change from Keith Gattis' slick Music Row production, which made the singer/songwriter sound like just another in an endless parade of indistinguishable hat acts. Big City Blues opens with the melodramatic title track, an anguished and mildly profane complaint set to a slow-burning arrangement of organ and a seemingly looped drum part that sounds like it could have come from a Portishead album. The rest of the album is more traditional but just as low-key, with small-combo arrangements that mostly leave the pedal steel unplugged in favor of soulful Hammond B-3 sounds and bottleneck guitar, as on the mopey "Reconsider." An ineffable sense of loss and resignation hangs over the album as a whole, one that makes it sound as if Gattis' label difficulties were the least of his worries over the lost decade. Ballad-heavy to the point that even relatively upbeat tunes like the bluesy rocker "Wish I Had You" are overlaid with sadness, Big City Blues is the dark side of the eternal optimism that powers so much country music.


Born: 26 May 1971 in Austin, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s

Born on May 26, 1971, in Austin, TX, country singer Keith Gattis began making music when he was 16, putting together a trio that played around his hometown. He eventually helped organize another act that won a statewide Future Farmers of America (FFA) talent competition, with one of the prizes being the opportunity to play before in excess of 20,000 people at the organization's national convention. During college, Gattis became more serious about his songwriting and guitar-playing. Upon graduation,...
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Big City Blues, Keith Gattis
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