Nashville introduces young, fresh-faced male vocalists with a regularity as predictable as nightfall these days. But the emergence of a convincing young honky tonker is cause for celebration. So expect fans of traditional country with a rowdy flair to rally around Keith Gattis, a 25-year-old with the good fortune to have soap-opera star looks and true honky-tonk wildness in his careening, note-bending voice.
Gattis may not meet the immediate acceptance at country radio that's afforded middle-of-the-road crooners like Bryan White and Clay Walker. But fans who prefer unrestrained emotion and untamed vocal acrobatics on rougher-edged bar-room fare will recognize a rare talent in Gattis.
A former guitarist for Johnny Paycheck, Gattis owns some of his former boss' full-toned expressiveness. Those familiar with early George Jones also will hear some of the Hall of Famer's style in Gattis as well. The singer's self-titled RCA debut, which features eight songs written by the young honky tonker, opens with a song called "The Real Deal." Believe it.