ALBUM REVIEW: Chris Knight - Heart of Stone

Until now, there was little argument that the masterpiece of Chris Knight's five-album career was his debut self-titled offering "Chris Knight." Although his first album probably still comes out on top due to its piercing lyrics and haunting melodies, any Chris Knight fan or reviewer could make a compelling case that "Heart of Stone" is the best record of his career.
As a songwriter, Chris Knight is truly without many equals in country music, but he is still one of the country's best kept secrets. While Knight is from Kentucky, he is a star on the vibrant Texas music scene. But most mainstream country fans probably know him more for his songwriting with songs like "It Ain't Easy Being Me." Even though he was once almost always compared with Steve Earle, Chris Knight has moved past these comparisons and crafted a true work of art that he painstakingly and passionately presents in "Heart of Stone."

Although Knight's first album explored the more angry elements of a hard life with songs like "Framed," the tone of "Heart of Stone" is a somewhat more positive. The music is loud and lyrics are thought provoking. As usual with Knight, the production is excellent with Dan Baird (also the producer) and Mike McAdam both on guitar. What's different about "Heart of Stone" is that Knight has carefully crafted a complete work that is satisfying from the first appetizer of "Homesick Gypsy" to the very delicious dessert of "Go On Home."

Every cut on this set tells a story. Upon first listen, the lyrics of the 12 cuts on "Heart of Stone" might seem simple and straightforward, but repeated listens illustrate the complexity and layers of the stories intertwined with music and lyrics combined with an earnest voice that is among the most memorable in music today.

Without a doubt, "Heart of Stone" is one of the best records of 2008 in any genre. This year, there have been many well produced albums with good songwriting, an excellent band and a superb vocalist, but Chris Knight's "Heart of Stone" is different. This record is a rockin', bluesy, country treat that defies genres and dares it's listeners to repeatedly think about their problems, life and loves. But "Heart of Stone" never overplays its hand and is therefore a compelling and complete piece of entertainment that is destined to be a classic.