At The House Of CashDrag City
DC 686 CD
***At the end of ’73, CHRIS GANTRY had in the can one of the weirdest records ever cut, on or off Music Row. A songwriter, storyteller and original Nashville outlaw, Chris started the wild new wave of young talent in town, a few years before Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, Tony Joe White, Dan Penn and dozens more. He’d already been writing for years when, at the age of 25, his song, “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife,” was a Billboard Pop Top 40 hit and a #3 Country record for Glen Campbell. He’d made his own records to0—but so far, Chris Gantry hadn’t done anything like this—and that was kinda saying a LOT. His music was a stylistic fusion: his 1967 album debut Introspection sounded a little bit folk, a little bit pop and only a little bit country, with smooth melodies and verdant string charts. But the '60s were afoot, and by the time of Chris’ second LP in 1970, Motor Mouth, his approach had radicalized into a wide-eyed, hard-edged delivery. The critics dug it, and Chris played on Johnny Cash’s TV show, but the next Gantry record didn’t appear for five more years. And herein lies a tale: of dropping out, of a vision-quest and an exorcism of sorts, and of sessions for a bunch of songs so far out from Nashville norms that it’s only now they’ve seen release. This is the story of At the House of Cash. High on the waves of the times, Chris had pulled apart the tropes of traditional voice-and-guitar singer-songwriting, pushing them into fevered, eclectic, entirely personal territory. He took in the scope of the freedom generation with whom he’d been riding shotgun, and turned it back out again with unhindered lyrical expressions reflecting both disillusionment and a deep sense of transformation, with deft gestures and songwriting chops nailing down the tunes. At the House of Cash stands tall with its outlaw brethren from the golden age of Nashville, and it is damn fine having it out in the open air with the rest of us at long last.