Down The Road I Go (Columbia )

Travis Tritt, Down the road i go

Is Travis Tritt, like fine wine, getting better as time goes by, or what? His vocals are richer and more potent than ever on his latest album, his first project in nearly two years and his debut Columbia release.

Travis wrote the first single, "Best Of Intentions," a heartfelt ballad that's as strong lyrically as it is musically. He also cowrote seven of the other 11 cuts, collaborating with some of Nashville's finest, including one of his musical heroes, Charlie Daniels. Down The Road I Go is an eclectic mix that moves, sometimes fast and sometimes slow, but always balanced by that familiar soulful voice. The album has a definite acoustic feel, utilizing instruments that are often sorely missed in some of today's country, like the fiddle, Dobro and banjo. Travis revives the acoustic slide guitar sound as well.

Travis cuts loose on the first selection, the title song, and follows with "Livin' On Borrowed Time." He effectively slows the pace on the next four cuts, including the beautiful ballad "Love Of A Woman." "Never Get Away From Me," dedicated to Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, carries lyrics that apply to the earlier bad boy days of both Travis and Waylon: I was a rowdy no-gooder/You were hotter than hell.

"Modern Day Bonnie And Clyde" starts out like a bluesy ballad on a tiny speaker car radio before Travis loads the tracks with a rambunctious high-speed travelogue that ends with a one-way trip to the jailhouse. The draining pain of a crumbling relationship has never been more convincingly rendered than in "Just Too Tired To Fight It," written by Travis and Stewart Harris. It's a flashback to his No. 1 hit, "Can I Trust You With My Heart."

The album's terminal stop is the rousing railroad epic created by Travis and Charlie Daniels. So she waited them tables and she used her smile, Travis wails, signaling that it's all aboard for adventure. Saving every penny she can/For a one-way Dixie bound Amtrak ticket/Headed for the promised land.

Whether it's the steel rails or a paved highway, Down The Road I Go proves that no matter what route Travis Tritt travels, he winds up in the same place - the land of great music.

-- Audra Evans

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