Texas native Chris Chitsey paid his dues as a singer early on belting out classic country songs for customers at his dad’s downtown Austin barbecue restaurant and entertainment venue, but he wasn’t quite ready for the big stage. It’s only after Chitsey refined his burgeoning talents in the hardscrabble world of the Texas honkytonk circuit that he found himself ready for global attention. Securing his first record deal two years into his collegiate studies, Chitsey maintained an impressive even-handed balance between his studies, eventually securing his Master’s degree, and shepherding himself through the earliest days of his musical career.
It’s already birthed several charting songs and the latest single, produced by D. Scott Miller, “Life is Hard, Whiskey is Easy” demonstrates considerable skill. This is no suburban cowboy singer. The new single spotlights Chitsey’s sure hand with a pure country music style rather than coming off as calculated pop masquerading as a heartfelt tune. Set for a mid-January release, Chitsey is solidifying his claim to being one of the genre’s most prodigious modern talents.
The mid-tempo pace of the track coupled with assertive pedal steel playing gives “Life Is Hard, Whiskey Is Easy” improbable gravitas given the subject matter. Miller’s production accentuates the weightiness without ever neutering the steadily building energy in the arrangement. The introduction of the fiddle early in the performance adds an important wrinkle to the tune without ever overshadowing the track’s heart.
It’s Chitsey’s voice that we’re here for. The laid-back yet slightly bluesy timbre of his voice is an ideal instrument for conveying his reflections on the joys of a stout whiskey after enduring life’s slings and arrows. Any adult listener wrestling with life, as we all do from time to time, will find the song’s lyrics eminently relatable. Chitsey doesn’t treat them like fine verbal china, but he does invest considerable thought into the phrasing while never sounding too careful or overly mannered.
His experience playing live gigs throughout Texas and beyond shines through. It comes across as well in the interplay between his voice, the aforementioned guitar, and the fiddle. It’s a three-pronged musical duet of sorts and the ongoing dialogue sustained from the outset through the song’s conclusion carries listeners away with a clear direction. There is no wasted motion.
There are no holes in this song. His ear for strong song construction is one of the single’s defining elements. The track’s three-minute running time doesn’t leave much room for self-indulgence and he isn’t that sort of performer anyway. Chris Chitsey’s “Life Is Hard, Whiskey Is Easy” rates as his most thoroughly realized single thus far and will likely enjoy greater success than any of his previous releases.
It bodes well for his future. Chitsey is extending an increasingly impressive discography emphasizing and refining the attributes that brought him to the dance and we can expect future efforts will carry on in that vein. For now, however, “Life Is Hard, Whiskey Is Easy” will more than do as an expression of Chris Chitsey’s considerable talents.