It's been seven years since Chris Knight released an album, but the singer/songwriter from Kentucky, known as much for material he's penned for others as well as his own music, hasn't really felt the gap. His new release, Almost Daylight, out Oct. 11, is premiering on Billboard exclusively below.
"I never thought about it," Knight, whose track record includes songs for Randy Travis, Montgomery Gentry, John Anderson, Confederate Railroad and others, tells Billboard. "It wasn't bothering me that much that I hadn't had a record out in a while. It was nothing to panic about. I always said, 'When I get enough songs, I'll put something out.' I just got ready to make a record and went in and made it."
Produced by Ray Kennedy and recorded in Nashville, Almost Daylight sports nine new Knight compositions. The most recent song dates back about two years, and the album also includes covers of Johnny Cash's "Flesh and Blood" and John Prine's "Mexican Home" (with Prine guesting). Lee Ann Womack joins Knight for "Send It On Down," while longtime friend Dan Baird, who co-wrote the track "Go On," plays guitar and is listed as a "special helper" in the album credits.
"It was over a year making this," reports Knight, who also co-wrote with Gary Nicholson, Christy Sutherland, Tim Krekel and David Leone for Almost Daylight. "I wanted to work with Ray and Dan Baird; Dan was busy in Europe, doing a lot of touring, and Ray was real busy, so for whatever reason, this and that, it just took a while to come around. When we figured out when we could get everybody together and get 'em in the studio to do it, we hadn't done any pre-production. We had no idea how the songs] were going to sound other than me doing a guitar-vocal demo] of the nine originals we ended up recording in Dan's basement that gave everybody some idea of how the songs should sound, and we just went from there."
A staff writer with Bluewater Music when he first moved to Nashville in the early '90s, Knight acknowledges that he applies a different standard to what he records than he might to works-for-hire.
"I'm not really a song crafter," Knight explains. "I write more from my gut and from my heart than I do from my head. It's not a math problem with me, figuring out how to write a song. There are some songs I've written that sound a little too commercial for me. That's just not what I do. You hear about all these songwriting rules, and that's fine for some people, but I don't have any]. I'm not worried about perfect rhymes or a chorus or a hook. I'm just trying to tell a story and figure out how to sing it or play it. That's what you get when it's a record of my own."
Knight will celebrate Almost Daylight's release on Oct. 11 with a show in Rocky Mount, N.C., and has sporadic dates booked into December. He's also not promising a next album will come along any sooner than this one. "I don't know — it might be nine or 10 years. You never can tell," he says. "We'll see. I wouldn't mind starting to write and putting together some stuff now. But I've just got to get out and sell this one first, and when it's the right time for the next one, that's when I'll do it."
Listen to Knight’s Almost Daylight below.