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Travis Tritt

A Man and His Guitar Live from the Franklin Theatre – 2016 (Post Oak)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Travis Tritt

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about today's digital music world, one in which new artists are emerging at an unprecedented rate and nabbing spots on radio and major outlets is that so many artists who've got it the hard way, earning their way through the ranks and establishing themselves, have almost been forgotten. And it's not a new trend, but one that is becoming increasingly apparent, even as these new artists speak of the value of classic country while trodding right over it with their new brand of "bro" and pop country.

Yet there are some of those old artists like Travis Tritt, whose star may have dimmed in the public eye to some extent, that isn't content to rest on his laurels and continues to press on, making great country music that deserves to be heard. And on "A Man and His Guitar" Tritt does just that, taking fans new and old on a stripped down trip through his storied career that highlights the best of Tritt and of country music itself.

As befits an artist who's been crooning for years, this release finds Tritt's vocals a little bit aged, but none the worse for wear, the added grit lending an extra panache to tracks like "Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde," "It's All About the Money" and heartfelt ballad "Best of Intentions." The artist frames himself with nothing but a guitar, putting the focus on the songs themselves and each and every one stands up to the test, reminding listeners of the great talent that Tritt truly is.

Longtime fans will enjoy classic tracks like "Lord Have Mercy On the Working Man," which features a guest spot from James Otto, as well as "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)," "Anymore," "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" and what may serve as Tritt's most popular calling card, the playfully optimistic "It's a Great Day to Be Alive." He also includes some classic country nods, revisiting Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line" and Hank Williams, Jr.'s "The Pressure Is On," both tracks he's covered in the past, while also lending a healthy nod to Waylon Jennings with a medley of Jennings classics that stands strong.

But perhaps the most engaging moment on the album comes when Tritt is joined by longtime friend and confidant Marty Stuart. The camaraderie between these two artists is readily apparent and their respect and friendship is front and center as they regale the crowd with stories from their past. Of course, they also deliver some music, offering up a spirited take on their duet "Whiskey Ain't Workin" as well as a killer instrumental "Pickin' At It." It's country music at its finest, encapsulating the heartbeat of friendship alongside great musicianship and truly stands apart.

And while it lands early in the two-disc recording, Tritt's take on "Country Ain't Country No More" bears mentioning because it truly beats with his heart blood. As an artist who's been openly vocal about country's move away from tradition, this track captures that heart powerfully and says it all in Tritt's newly added verse wherein he sings, "You turn your radio on/And then you wonder what for/'Cause country ain't country no more."

Rest assured, Travis Tritt is the type of country that's still well worth listening to.