[from Ventura County Reporter] It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years since country icon Travis Tritt released his debut album, Country Club, but it has. With seven platinum albums, two Grammy awards, three CMA awards and 20 Top 10 singles to his name, Tritt’s story is the story of so many country artists. He started singing in church, got a guitar as a youngster, made his way to Nashville and landed a record deal. Pretty quickly out of the gate Tritt found success, hitting No. 1 with his second-ever single and getting inducted into the famed Grand Ole Opry only two years after his debut.
Unlike some of his contemporaries — namely Garth Brooks and Clint Black — Tritt eschewed cowboy hats and too-slick production. Instead, he crafted his own outlaw-tinged sound, drawing from influences as far and wide as Andraé Crouch, the Allman Brothers Band and Waylon Jennings. And even though that was then, it is also now, because Tritt still looks and sounds as if he stepped right out of 1992 and onto the stage. Neither his facial hair nor his soulful voice has changed a bit.
After decades spent on both major and independent labels, Tritt took a turn with Category 5 Records in 2006. Though the label issued The Storm in 2007, it was a tumultuous time that ended when the owner went to jail for using ill-gotten funding for the company. A lengthy legal battle ensued, after which Tritt recovered the album’s masters and re-released them in 2013 asThe Calm After . . . on his own Post Oak Records.
With production by American Idol’s Randy Jackson, The Calm After . . . finds Tritt’s Crouch and Allman influences very much alive and well, though there’s not a lot of Jennings to be found in the slick, bluesy set. Although Tritt has said that he feels he is singing better than ever, his vocal performances on the project feel more forced, more contrived even, than on records past. The redux album also features a reworking of the Patty Smyth/Don Henley duet “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” performed by Tritt and his 15-year-old daughter, Tyler Reese Tritt. The kid sure can sing, but it is strange to hear a love song performed by a father-daughter duo.
Even at 51, Tritt is just as much of a road dog as he ever was. Over the course of the past few years, he’s done a lot of dates, some with one of his other go-to collaborators — country legend Marty Stuart. The other performances have alternated between full band and solo acoustic. For his current run, which ends on January 29 at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks, Tritt is opting for the latter. That sparse setting should allow Tritt’s guitar playing and song selections to really shine and, hopefully, give his true voice room to breathe.
Travis Tritt will perform at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks on Jan. 29. For more information, visit www.civicartsplaza.com.