“Every Small Town” by Rising Star Chris Chitsey

Music

In his new single “Every Small Town,” star country singer Chris Chitsey turns his focus to the homespun element of his sound and entirely abandons the notion of commerciality in his artistry at the door. From the moment we press the play button forward, Chitsey is on top of us with a rhythmic swing from the strings that instantly clears up even the cloudiest of days. There’s a strong pop sensibility to the construction of the hook, but even at its most nimble and streamlined, there isn’t a speck of artificiality for us to look past here. “Every Small Town” is a good old fashioned country for a generation that needs a shot of aural vitality amid the uncertain times presented by contemporary life.

The tempo has a delightful swing to it here, and this influences the mood of the music in more ways than one. For starters, the melody captures and ultimately extends the aggressive attitude of the percussion when we get into the chorus, and in the violin-led refrain, the absence of a substantial groove highlights the emotionality in Chitsey’s words better than anything else possibly could have. On more than one occasion, “Every Small Town” flirts with the boundaries that separate indie country from a more mainstream strain of the genre, but never does it feel like the embodiment of a singer/songwriter’s selling-out; quite the opposite, truth be told. There’s a lot of passion in every element of the music, and that just can’t be said for a lot of the new country charting this summer.

I’m only a little familiar with the extended discography of Chris Chitsey, but I do think that his performance in “Every Small Town” could boast his most melodic vocal so far. He’s showing off a lot of growth from behind the mic, and although there’s a lot of emotion born of the lyrics here, none of it would be even remotely accessible to us were it being presented by a different singer. Chitsey has a signature sound, and if there was any sort of debate as to whether or not this was the case before the release of this latest single, I think the argument is going to be put to bed permanently now.

Chris Chitsey has come a long way in the short time he’s been in the underground spotlight, and judging from the ambitious stylization of this most recent studio offering, his career is destined for bigger and better things just around the corner. 2024 has been a somewhat transitional year for country music in general, and for indie artists like this one, it’s been a trying time staying afloat with the lack of indie resources from one end of the underground to the next. Nevertheless, Chitsey is breaking out the big guns for “Every Small Town,” and if you ask me, I think he deserves to be lauded as one of the more focused singer/songwriters in his peer group this season. He’s cool, calm, and collected, and we could use more of that in American music nowadays.

Loretta Kim

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