After the Greatest Hits album, 1996’s The Restless Kind denotes a new start of sorts, with long term producer Gregg Brown dropped for veteran rock producer Don Was, with Tritt also getting a co-production credit. The pairing does a pretty good job, and the general feel of the album is not that far removed from Tritt’s usual style, except that the harmonica is more prominent than the steel guitar. Travis wrote or co-wrote seven of the songs, and friend and tour partner Marty Stuart also contributed.
The first single, ‘More Than You’ll Ever Know’ is a very well sung but not particularly interesting ballad of devotion to a wife. The album’s biggest hit, it peaked at #3.
It was followed by ‘Where Corn Don’t Grow’, which made it to #6. Written by Roger Murrah and Mark Alan Springer, it had originally been recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1990, and is an excellent story song about a country boy who has to find out the hard way how hard city life is.
‘She’s Going Home With Me’ and ‘Still In Love With You’ both peaked in the 20s, and are equally forgettable mid-tempo numbers.
Sent to radio in between those two, the much better ‘Helping Me Get Over You’ did creep into the top 20 but should have done better. It is a sensitive ballad Tritt wrote and sings with Lari White about a couple both struggling to move on with new partners. An excellent vocal from Tritt is matched by White’s distinctive voice.
My favorite non-single (and a clear missed opportunity) is the ballad ‘Did You Fall Far Enough’, written by Tritt with Troy Seals. The protagonist is wracked with doubt for no clear reason:
You’ve given me no cause to doubt you
And I know passion burns in your heart
But does that same fire keep on burning
In the hours that we spend apart?
If you knew the question that burns in my mind
Then you know why I worry so much
I can’t help but wonder when we fell in love
Sweetheart, did you fall far enough?]
Mark O’Connor’s beautiful fiddle winds through the song, and with Travis’s excellent vocal, helps to make this a real highlight.
‘Sack Full Of Stones’ is the best of the three songs here co-written by Marty Stuart, a somber breakup song with a fine vocal. ‘Draggin’ My Heart Around’ is a pretty good chugging Marty Stuart/Paul Kennerley song typical of what Stuart was doing at that period, with a strong groove and the Desert Rose Band’s Herb Pedersen on high harmony. The less successful ‘Double Trouble’ is a self-indulgent buddy duet with Stuart with a silly story of two friends accidentally dating the same girl, which the pair wrote with Kennerley. Stuart also plays electric guitar throughout the album.
‘Back Up Against The Wall’ is pure Southern rock/outlaw, and while it is catchy and enthusiastically performed, I was entirely unconvinced by the hardboiled jailbreak story. A meaty version of the title track, an uptempo number penned by Michael Henderson which has been recorded by a number of other artists, including Highway 101 and Trisha Yearwood, is pretty good. The romantic commitment of ‘More Than You’ll Ever Know’ is quite a nice ballad benefitting from a sincerely delivered vocal and attractive folky harmonica-led arrangement.
Overall, this is a fairly solid album with a couple of high spots. It’s worth picking up especially at cheap used copy prices.