“It Ain’t Easy Being Me,” the opening cut on this Kentucky native’s debut album, bust through the swinging doors like a brash fanfare for a new roots-rock hero. Knight gives this loser’s anthem, which he co-wrote with Craig Wiseman, a rugged, Steve Earle attack and a self-deprecating twang that’s pure John Prine.
“There ought to be a town somewhere Named for how I feel. Yeah I could be the mayor down there and say welcome to Sorryville”
If the rest of the album doesn’t quite sustain that promise, Knight holds his own through a series of heartland vignettes. You’ve got your stubborn farmer and your troubled kids, jilted guys and young lovers, outlaws and idealists, cops and hookers.
Familiar stuff, but it never succumbs to formula. Knight tells the stories well and makes them seem worth telling, and his rough voice makes them seem deeply felt. His country, rock and fold blend provides a flavorful, subtly exotic propellant for the narratives.
Knight’s sound and writing are still in the shadow of Prine and Earle, but he clearly has the potential to stake out his own territory. As he does, he should take a cue from this album’s best song and approach life a little more wryly.