Travis Tritt - Proud of the Country
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Proud of the Country (Copperhill Records/Painted Desert Music, 2023)

Travis Tritt

Reviewed by Al Cunniff

This re-release is the first digital appearance of the now-rare album that started it all for Tritt. Originally released in 1987 on Copperhill Records, it helped earn him his first major label record deal - with Warner Bros. Nashville. The 11 songs, all written or co-written by Tritt, reflect the classic country era they were recorded in and show that Tritt was a talent ready for national exposure.

Some of these melodies and rhythms offer foreshadowing of hits that would be in Tritt's future. "Don't Put Us Down" has a classic honky tonk feel, with a rhythm and delivery that reminds one of "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'." "Gambler's Blues" features some minor key, bluesy picking, with a beat reminiscent of his future hit "Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde." "Talkin' 'Bout Love" is a breezy midtempo number with a classic country pop feel.

"Proud of the Country," the fast-paced title track, straddles country and bluegrass, as Tritt tells us he's "a country singer and a country dreamer with a country heart" — but he also gives a shout out to bluegrass and includes some hot fiddle and banjo work to prove the point. "Get a Little Rowdy" is in a similar vein, a rowdy production that celebrates the rowdy life of a rowdy country singer.

Tritt explores more tender themes on "Sleepless Nights," which opens with acoustic guitar and vocal, joined by steel guitar and harmonica as he sings about the one who waits at home and the other who lingers in his mind. "Staying Power" celebrates a love that grows every hour, while "Before You Said Goodbye," "Dreams" and "I'm Not Laughing Now" are ballads about loss and heartbreak.

This album is not as highly a polished production as Tritt's later star-quality output, as these were essentially demo tracks designed to showcase his voice and songwriting to major labels. But the album, produced by Tritt, Danny Davenport and Billy Suit, shows that Tritt had already found the unique blend of country, soul and blues that would later carry him to the top of the country charts.

CDs by Travis Tritt

Proud of the Country, 2023 A Man and His Guitar Live from the Franklin Theatre, 2016 The Calm After..., 2013 The Storm, 2007

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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