Chris Knight is the kind of singer-songwriter who’s content to collect quality compositions at whatever pace they come. Growing up in rural Kentucky, he was a teenaged John Prine connoisseur who slowly eased into writing and performing his own songs, and he released his self-titled first album in 1998 at the age of 37. So it was nothing to Knight to allow a full seven years to pass between 2012’s Little Victories and Almost Daylight. He’s fully capable of holding listeners’ attention with only his guitar for accompaniment, which is why his demo collection The Trailer Tapes is a fan favorite.
This time, Knight asked his producer Ray Kennedy to place rugged Appalachian rock accompaniment behind his visceral storytelling and brusque delivery. He brings fierceness to his blues-rock cover of Prine’s “Mexican Home,” with an assist from Prine himself. Knight pared down the melody of “Send It On Down,” a prayer of desperation first heard on a Lee Ann Womack album and haunted by her harmonies here, accentuating his protagonist's reticence about admitting his neediness. He telegraphs such tensions in other originals, too: "I Won't Look Back" plays out like a phone call from a man trying to simultaneously reassure his ex and convince her to keep his secrets, and the homesteader type in "Crooked Mile" realizes his isolationism is a burden that the woman by his side has to bear. The weathered sweetness of the title track is the sort of understated surprise that rewards the patience of Knight's listeners. “You’re the reason I ain’t turned to stone,” insists the rambling protagonist, who's endlessly grateful for a steadying relationship.