Hailing from the heart of Texas, the state capital of Austin, Chris Chitsey’s journey through the world of popular music began on the stage of his father’s Bar-B-Q restaurant and entertainment center in the city’s center. He culled his sound and songwriting perspective from a number of classic country stalwarts such as Keith Whitley, Alan Jackson, Merle Haggard, and George Strait, among others, but has transmuted those influences through his experiences and skill to produce a sound all his own.
His new single “Last Time I Saw You” sparkles with that aforementioned classic country vibe. The presence of pedal steel, time-tested country song tropes, and a sincere treatment of the material distinguishes Chitsey from his peers. It’s an expertly turned piece of songcraft with several payoff moments for listeners scattered throughout the track without ever succumbing to tired cliché. There’s a consistent ring of authenticity present during this song that never makes you question the heartache at its center.
Chitsey’s vocal approach shines. He’s considered and emotive at all the right points and affects just enough of the classic twang for listeners to feel at home with the performance. He’s careful about tailoring his voice to the arrangement; Chitsey is obviously a vocalist whose first concern is serving the song. He inhabits every line of the lyric with undeniable presence and modulates his voice accordingly during the song’s chorus.
There are other subtle musical touches that help flesh the song out. Piano rises to the surface of the mix at key points during the track’s development and lightens its touch without taking it in a different direction. The pedal steel is never omnipresent but nonetheless acts as a near-vocal counterpoint to Chitsey’s voice. It runs a little over three minutes long and dispenses with any extended instrumental breaks. The players shine, nonetheless, and we’re treated to a complete performance as a result.
The lyrics hit upon a number of customary classic country elements that may sound gratuitous. They do help provide listeners with a predictable listening experience though and they comport with the song’s subject matter. It’s a classic meditation on “the one that got away” and exhibits a welcome degree of vulnerability, sans any bluster, without ever sounding corny. This is country music for mature, if not sophisticated, fans of the genre, and such listeners will greet it with great enthusiasm.
The song’s accompanying video is excellent. We’re treated to an assortment of close-up shots of Chitsey singing for the camera and footage of him interacting with the song’s ostensible subject. It has a polished and colorful presentation, soothing colors abound, and the rural setting of the promotional clip will connect with viewers/listeners. Chris Chitsey’s latest single is another in a long line of five-star gems from this Texas native and there’s no sign that he’s slowing down. It’s the stuff that durable legacies are known for and Chitsey is likely to continue adding such memorable cuts to his discography for many years to come. It’s highly recommended for any fan of classic country.