The Lovin' Side

In terms of sheer power, soulfulness, and style, Travis Tritt has few if any vocal equals in country music.

In terms of sheer power, soulfulness, and style, Travis Tritt has few if any vocal equals in country music. Nowhere is that more apparent than when he points his muscular voice toward ballads, and this Rhino compilation showcases Tritt's softer, more subtle impulses well. Much of the more powerful stuff came early on, including the tender "Anymore," the pleading "Help Me Hold On," and the wishful, gorgeous "Drift Off to Dream." Songs like these set the Tritt gold standard, and he followed up with such killer ballads as the country classic "When I Touch You" and the vulnerable caution of "Can I Trust You With My Heart." Tritt's dead-on delivery of such neo-classics "Between an Old Memory and Me" are whiskey-tinged, Gosdin-esque perfection, delivering a mixture of regret, self-pity, and resignation that is the sole property of country music at its best. The production throughout—helmed by the likes of Gregg Brown, James Stroud, Don Was, and Billy Walker Jr.—is some of the best Nashville has served up over the past decade, never over blown but rather allowing Tritt to hammer the point home. Which he ably does.—RW