By Daryl Addison
Travis Tritt’s new record The Calm After… is an updated re-release of his 2007 project The Storm. You see, Travis was recently granted the rights to the 2007 album after finally resolving a tumultuous legal battle with the record label he was on at the time of its release. The now-defunct label closed shortly after The Storm’s release and distribution for the project vanished as well. Now with full control over the rights, Travis has re-released the project as the smartly-titled The Calm After…while also dropping in two new songs to go along with the original set.
Working to co-produce the project with American Idol’s Randy Jackson, The Calm After… highlights many of Travis’ best traits; namely his bluesy and soul-filled voice. Opening the album with swamp-filled vocal runs and front porch resonator guitar on “Mudcat Moan / You Never Take Me Dancing,” it’s immediately apparent that Travis is at his best when knee-deep in the bayou blues. The pleading roadhouse rumbler “Doesn’t The Good Outweigh The Bad” (which Travis co-wrote with Richard Marx) and the juke joint “Rub Off On Me” both reveal how much singers like Joe Cocker and Michael McDonald have influenced his delivery and timing.
Travis’ voice is as strong and confident as on any of his classic projects. “High Time For Gettin’ Down” recalls some of his best work from past releases like 2000’s Down The Road I Go while also showing just how much this man digs the blues. Included on The Calm After… is a faithful cover of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band’s Texas blues tune “Somehow, Somewhere, Someway” as well as a nod to Travis’ own authentic feel as a blues writer with “The Storm.” One of the album’s best songs, “The Storm” is full of raw guitar, B-3 organ and quick melodic jabs. It feels like you’ve been caught up in a dark angry wind / that blew in on the day you were born, he sings with a strikingly natural feel.
The album features several covers including Hank Williams, Jr.’s hard country classic “The Pressure Is On” and the Rod Stewart / Ronnie Wood-penned “Stay With Me” by Faces. It might also be assumed that Randy Jackson’s popular music background led to the album’s Nickelback cover “Should’ve Listened,” which while featuring a strong and impassioned performance by Travis, doesn’t lend itself to country quite as well rhythmically. Also newly recorded for The Calm After… is a cover of the Don Henley and Patty Smyth 1992 duet “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” where Travis’ daughter Tyler Reese joins him.
Filling out the project are a collection of power ballads that showcase Travis’ vocal talent. “(I Wanna) Feel Too Much” is soulful, emotional and precise while on “What If Love Hangs On” (which Travis co-wrote with Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas), Travis’ melodies float over the chord progression with a graceful ease.
Travis pushed himself into new territory on The Calm After… Writing sessions with pop/rock artists and well-chosen cover songs show that he is still growing as an artist while also managing to come off with an authentic touch. Fans will no doubt be happy that this project is once again in circulation as they look forward to the next step in Travis’ career.
Key Tracks – “The Storm,” “Doesn’t The Good Outweigh The Bad,” “The Pressure Is On,” “High Time For Gettin’ Down”