Though some people might expect a Travis Tritt album co-produced with Don Was to be the Warner Bros. artist's most rocking album ever, Tritt and Warner executives think listeners will be surprised to find that The Restless Kind, due Aug. 27, is his most traditional country outing ever.
Tritt is so excited about the release that he and Was are visiting WEA branch offices to promote the project, and Warner Bros. is getting behind the release with a major push to radio and retail in the United States as well as Europe.
Bill Mayne, senior vice president of promotion for Warner Bros. Nashville, says that before the record was complete, Tritt told him, "This next record is going to be the most country one I've ever made." Mayne admits he was surprised when he heard Was was co-producing, because Was is known primarily for his work in rock.
After seeing Tritt and Was in the studio, Mayne says he knew the collaboration was working. "Don makes very, very pure music. There is a simplicity in this recording that's just wonderful," Mayne says. "And I've got to give a lot of credit to Travis as co-producer. It truly was a joint collaboration."
Tritt's prior albums were produced by Gregg Brown, and when the two decided not to work together on this record, Tritt says he began calling producers.
Tritt had worked with Was on his cut on the Rhythm, Country and Blues album and on the televised tribute to Elvis Presley from Memphis. "I always loved working with Don because he was so open to artists and artists' ideas," Tritt says, "and he was very excited about the idea of co-producing with me. I was glad it came about."
Tritt says he was much more involved in this album than before. "It is my first true co-production," he says.
Tritt says he and Was had definite ideas about how to present the 11 cuts on the album. "We wanted to go in and bring my vocal and me as an artist up to the front instead of burying me in a bunch of background vocals and strip down the band instead of overdubbing a bunch of guitar parts," he says.
Notwithstanding Was' formidable rock credits, which include albums with the Rolling Stones and Bonnie Raitt, Tritt says one of the things that drew him to the producer was the albums he did with Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.
Tritt wrote or co-wrote seven of the album's 11 cuts. One of the songs he's most excited about is a duet with Dunedin native Lari White titled Help Me Get Over You. Tritt worked with White on a CBS special last year and is such a fan he asked her to co-write the song and sing it with him.
"She has so much soul and power," he says of White, "and she's an exceptional songwriter. I sent her the demo of the song, and in a couple of weeks she sent her verse back. Then we recorded it together live in the studio."
Mayne says picking singles will be difficult because the album offers so many possibilities.
"The creative challenge is to keep consistency to your core audience but yet, at the same time, keep reinventing yourself and taking on fresh perspective," Mayne says. "On this album, Travis has certainly done that."
Tritt just appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and plans to perform at the Republican National Convention in August.