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Enough Rope

Chris Knight

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Album Review

Chris Knight's Enough Rope is a tribute to blue-collar America, to the simple life and to the desperate hardships and the unmatched joys that people who aren't part of it will never know. It's blatantly honest, often empathetic and frequently beautiful. The album never dips from its high level of songwriting skill, energy, and passion, though some songs are more touching and standout than others. Enough Rope is a great mix of uptempo highway driving songs and sentimental, nostalgic ballads. "Up from the Hill" is a rollicking Southern rocker and "Bridle on a Bull" is country-tinged blues at its finest with distorted slide guitar delivering a howling solo: "If your mule don't want to plow/Talk to him with a two-by-four/And if he still don't want to plow/Talk to him just a little bit more/And if he just don't want to listen/Haul him off to the dog food store." The best aspect about Enough Rope is the stories Knight tells. The most touching song on the album is the medium-tempo "Old Man": "Don't wanna die till I've lived too long/They'll sell this place, whenever I'm gone/I miss my sweetheart so, and the way she used to smile/I miss them kids of mine, running wild/When the daylight fades in late afternoon/About all I know is it was gone too soon." "William's Son" is a tale of a maverick youth who grew up tough after escaping from his abusive father: "I'm kinda glad my dad got blown away/I know he grew up hard and he grew up mean/But me and my sister was not to blame." The album comes to a close with the perfect song: "Enough Rope" is a heartland rock ballad, reminiscent of a John Mellencamp tune (Knight's voice is a little grittier, but similar). It's slow, reflective, and simple, with acoustic guitar and violin — a tribute to hard-working people who never got to achieve their biggest dreams. "Well, I work for the city, in the town where I grew up/Some days I run the backhoe, some days I run the dump/If I had other plans on my graduation day/Then several years ago, I guess I hauled 'em all away/She told me she was pregnant on the day I turned 18/And I did what you're supposed to do, I bought her a ring." Knight's music is the perfect blend of Americana and country-rock; it's clean at times, but it's far too soulful to be considered only contemporary country. His sound and style change little from album to album, but there's no need for change. Knight has discovered his niche as a songwriter, and Enough Rope is just another testament to his talent. ~Megan Frye, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Perhaps Americana's greatest songwriter

Chris Knight resides in the same rarefied atmosphere as the greatest contemporary songwriters in American music, i.e., Dylan, Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt. Even if measured against the greatest records of these eminent artists, "Enough Rope" holds its own. It's only when held up against his own masterwork, 2002's "A Pretty Good Guy," that "Enough Rope" may seem to pale a bit in comparison; but it is unfair, as one reviewer here has, to disparage "Enough Rope" just because it's not "APGG." "Enough Rope" is a record made by a man whose roughest edges are in the process of being filed away by the years. Knight's previous CDs have been dominated by harrowing and poignant narratives populated by rough, tough, good ol' boys, cops, and ne'er-do-wells, all who seem to end up on the trigger-end of a gun. The sensational qualities of these stories about gas-station robberies gone wrong and cold-blooded revenge murders immediately demand the listener's attention, and Knight's eye for details and ear for subtle turns of phrase make repeat listens continuously rewarding. But on "Enough Rope," Knight turns his attention from the most violent underbelly of rural America. The only gun mentioned on this CD comes in an allusion to a character shot dead by a cop on Knight's eponymous first CD ("Willliam's Son"), and the only fights are those associated with a former rounder who now drinks iced tea in his backyard and teaches his boys to respect the law ("Jack Blue") and those remembered the haze of advanced age and impinging death ("Old Man"). "Enough Rope" also softens a good deal of the machismo and anger present in Knight's previous work. (By his own admission in a recent interview, Knight is less pissed-off at the world than he once was.) While Knight's flannel-shirt sensibilities have really never been questioned, he has most frequently treated relationships with women in songs (and figures) such as "Banging Away" and "Hard Candy." "Enough Rope" sports Knight's most conventional love songs, "Cry Lonely" and "Saved by Love." Similarly, Knight's front-porch social consciousness has always been evident. (He is, after all, a pretty good guy who fixes his neighbors' cars and keeps his stereo turned down out of consideration for others.) But in "Dirt," a song about losing the family farm, Knight's anger wells up out of liberal anti-corporate environmentalism, not the libertarian affront of having one's personal property and dignity encroached upon (as in the earlier "House and 90 Acres"). Despite the fact that this album rocks just as hard--if not harder--that either "Chris Knight" or "The Jealous Kind," the "softened" edges of this CD will undoubtedly lead some fans to consider it a lesser achievement. "ER" is a different Chris Knight CD, one in which he puts aside overly dramatic Appalachian tragedies in favor of more complex, lyrical explorations of life through the common human experiences of love, family, loss, aging and loss. All without abandoning his interest in or affection for the Appalachian milieu or character we have come to know and expect from his songs. "ER" signals the maturation of Chris Knight. It is a must-have CD for any fan of country-rock or Americana, or for any fledgling songwriter who wants to study the craft. While the collection requires more patience and thoughtfulness than his previous recordings, it is, if anything, more rewarding for that reason.

A rockin' 4th album

Knight doesn't disappoint with his follow up to The Jealous Kind. Harder rocking stuff like River Road and Jack Blue are balanced out with slower fare like Cry Lonely and Saved by Love. The gem here is Rural Route, a bouncing, reflective piece with an addictive chorus and perfect imagery. Not a clunker in the bunch. Stop with the Steve Earle comparisons; this is better than anything Steve's put out in years.

Long wait, well worth it...

Chris shows yet again that he IS one of the best song writers in Americana/Country music today. Every song on here tells a story. Whether it's hardship or barfights, they're all very good story-telling songs. I said it once before, and I'll say it again, Chris is the best kept secret in Americana. I have been patiently waiting for his new album, and now the wait is over I am not disappointed one bit.

Biography

Born: June 24, 1960 in Slaughters, KY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Chris Knight is a singer/songwriter from the tiny mining town of Slaughters, KY, whose self-titled debut album invited comparisons to Steve Earle and John Prine. Knight started on his musical journey at just three years old when he requested a plastic guitar for Christmas. At 15, he became more serious when he began teaching himself dozens of John Prine songs on his older brother's guitar. After earning an agriculture degree from Western Kentucky...
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Enough Rope, Chris Knight
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