“Every Small Town” by Chris Chitsey

Chris Chitsey isn’t holding back from the first few opening lines of his new single “Every Small Town,” out this June 18th everywhere compelling country music is streamed. In his words, Chitsey has nowhere to hide from the emotion he’s putting on the table for everyone to see and ultimately judge, but that seems to be just fine by him. “Every Small Town” jumps out of the speaker and attacks us with its happy-go-lucky groove and reliably poppy hook, and although it’s as country as anything coming out of the Nashville scene this summer, it’s got more of an Americana bend to its manner of melodic swagger than anything the genre’s establishment has been producing in the last year.

There’s a more complex set of poeticisms in play with “Every Small Town” than any of Chris Chitsey’s previous material had, but this isn’t to say that I came into this review with low expectations for what I was about to hear. For the last couple of years that have gone by since his reemerging as a major player in his scene, this is a singer/songwriter who hasn’t stopped reforming himself and searching for better means by which he can express the emotions in his heart through the harmonies in his music. “Every Small Town” resembles elements of “I Found Someone” for sure, but side by side, this demonstrates a lot of practiced wisdom that Chitsey didn’t have at the start of this odyssey.

The backing band doesn’t have a lot of polish on their parts as far as the master mix is concerned, but I think this was the preferable route to go for the concept being used in the framing of “Every Small Town.” The romantic component of the lyrics is sweet, but with a lot of bright, sparkling melodies in the foreground, I don’t know that it wouldn’t have come off as a little saccharine by the time we get into the chorus. By keeping the background instrumentation a little gritty, Chitsey is reminding us that he’s still the same guitar-slinging cowboy who captured hearts in the American underground with “With a Body Like That” back in 2000.

Honest, ambitious, and artistically assertive of who he wants to be as a songwriter and performer, Chris Chitsey’s “Every Small Town” is the most mature work this guy has issued thus far, and it’s absolutely one of my new favorite country songs this June. There are a lot of different times and situations that call for an artist to expand on their greatest ideas, and right now is a moment I would encourage Chitsey to take advantage of before the window of opportunity has passed him by. He’s on a roll lately, and while his momentum is as strong as it is at this season, I think it would be prudent of him to give fans the expanded work that they’ve been craving for a few years now. From what it looks like here, he’s hitting his peak at the right time.

Gwen Waggoner