Not many genres within the universe of popular music are as recognizable as old-fashioned country music is, and bearing that in mind, Chris Chitsey still manages to put together something wholly original and truly his own in the new single “Every Small Town,” which has debuted this June to a warm reception from critics and fans alike. While “Every Small Town” is by no means an artistic departure from what Chitsey had already been producing since 2000, it represents a desire on his end to find a more mainstream sound that combines the best of his multilayered style and leaves the dead weight in the dust.


There’s no ego in the vocal delivery here, but instead a sense of collective harmony that starts and ends with Chris Chitsey. The chemistry between himself and the other players in his band is incredible in this instance, and though he’s never had a problem connecting with producers behind the glass before now, I do get the feeling that he was a little more relaxed and at ease with the recording process when they were laying the tracks for the master mix of this song.

These aren’t the most elaborate lyrics that I’ve heard in a single from this artist, but I don’t think they need to be to impart something to the listeners that feels and sounds genuine from top to bottom. Chitsey is very careful with how he stylizes his words here, and with his execution being as surgically-precise as it is in the chorus, I get the idea he doesn’t want us misinterpreting his lovesick narrative for something potentially politicized or self-championing. Neither would be good for his brand, but those who listen to him regularly already know that wouldn’t likely be any part of his work.

Every weapon that Chitsey has access to in the studio for “Every Small Town” ends up getting used at some point or another, and even though it’s a little difficult for me to decide which of the two is sharper, the violin and guitar’s back and forth exchange is probably what initially made me love this song as much as I do. The instrumentation provides such a sturdy foundation for the verses that it’s difficult to tell where the harmony is going to take us next, but more importantly, the audience is so swept away in the underlying groove that we’re never given much of a chance to care.

Both casual country fans and serious followers of the genre need to pay attention to the music of Chris Chitsey this season, and I say that as someone who has spent the better part of their life studying the ins and outs of his chosen genre. “Every Small Town” is worth a listen for multiple reasons, but chief among them is its unfiltered passion and lack of negativity overall. This is a song designed to make you feel good when you hear it, which hasn’t been the situation with a lot of country’s most talked-about singles recently.

Garth Thomas