Chris Gantry

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Nashlantis Review

by Timothy Monger

An outlaw even by country standards, singer/songwriter Chris Gantry disappeared from Nashville near the end of the 1970s, leaving behind a stack of interesting songs, a few hits (his most notable being Glen Campbell's "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife"), and a scattering of eclectic LPs, including a wild and unfiltered psychedelic album recorded at Johnny Cash's place that he'd been forced to shelve when no label would touch it. A natural rover with a Bohemian streak, the New York native eventually ended up in the Florida Keys, where he reinvented himself as a writer, publishing several novels, children's books, and poetry collections. Resuming his music career nearly four decades later, he issued the charming Gantry Rides Again in 2015 and, two years later, finally landed a willing partner (Drag City) to issue his long-lost psych opus, At the House of Cash. Gantry's late-career resurgence continues with Nashlantis, another collection of new material, also released by Drag City. Produced by Jerry David DeCicca (Ed Askew, Larry Jon Wilson), Nashlantis finds the 76-year-old songman in a ruminative mood, contemplating lessons learned, paths taken, friends made, and joyfully extolling the virtues of engaging with one's wild side. More folk than country, Gantry plays the role of master storyteller, retracing facets of his life's journey in an assured, time-worn voice accompanied by his nimbly picked steel string. DeCicca lightly populates Nashlantis with a smattering of guests who add odd bubbling synths, soulful cello, a peppering of percussion, and bits of tasteful electric guitar. Baritone-voiced Drag City mainstay Bill Callahan makes an appearance on the good-natured paean to diversity "Box of Crayons," as does Edith Frost on romantic highlight "Say Sorry Later." From the sound of it, Gantry has arrived at a good place in life and his accumulated wisdom comes across as well-earned and rich in color. After all this time, he still doesn't fit in with the Nashville establishment, but if opener "Life Well Lived" is any indication, he wouldn't have it any other way.

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