It has been six years since Travis Tritt released his last album, The Storm. And while he probably didn’t know it at the time, the project’s title would be all too prophetic. Because of financial problems with his now shuttered label, The Storm was essentially blown away, unfulfilling any expectations Travis might have had for the record.
But out of a storm can come a sense of renewal, and for Travis, it arrives in the form of The Calm After . . . , his new album. It’s actually a second chance for The Storm. Travis digitally remastered all of the songs and rereleased it under the new title.
“We cut that album in 2007, and it was done on an independent label. The label ended up failing and, as a result, we basically never really had a chance for that album to see the light of day,” Travis says. “I put my heart and soul into it. We worked so hard to put that album together. So I filed litigation to get my masters [the original recordings] back.”
Travis was successful, and with ownership of the tracks, used them to fulfill another dream: launching his own record label, Post Oak Recordings, on which The Calm After . . . was released. But it’s not simply a rerelease; Travis included two new songs, a cover of the classic-rock staple “Stay With Me” by the Faces, and first single “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” a duet with his daughter, Tyler Reese.
A hit on the pop charts for Patty Smyth and Don Henley in 1997, Travis wanted his version of the song to feature a big-name duet partner. “I had a short list of three people: Wynonna, Martina McBride and Jennifer Nettles. Unfortunately, in 2007, when we recorded it, the timing was off to get any of those three ladies because they had just done duets with other male partners at that time. So we shelved it,” Travis says.
But a family trip to a wedding in Florida would help Travis find the perfect female voice: that of his 15-year-old daughter, Tyler Reese. “We were on our way back and that song came up on my iPod. My daughter had never heard it before and she made me play it about six or seven times. I was listening to her sing it in the back seat, and I was thinking to myself, ‘She is really nailing this. She has the right amount of soul to be able to pull it off,’” he says. After running it by his wife, Theresa, Travis brought Tyler Reese into the studio.
And while many teens would cringe at working with their father, Tyler Reese says it wasn’t weird at all. “I have had embarrassing moments with both of my parents, but in no way was recording with my dad awkward or embarrassing!” she says. “With his hilarious sense of humor, there was never a dull moment during the recording session.”
The proud father says Tyler Reese has always wanted to join him in the business. When she was just a child, Tyler Reese and her brother Tristan (Travis also has another son, Tarian) would sing “God Bless America” onstage with Travis. She’s set to join Dad on a few select dates this summer.
“She’s been involved in talent competitions, singing and dance, all over the country ever since she was just a little girl. When she was 9, I started getting calls from record labels and television networks who wanted to book her, and in spite of the fact that I knew she was capable of pulling it off, I wanted her to have somewhat of a normal childhood,” Travis says. “I know this business can be extremely challenging, especially for someone who is so young. So we had been keeping a lid on Tyler Reese. The fact is that once we recorded [“Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough”], I didn’t feel like we could keep a lid on it anymore.”
“Since I was a little girl my answer to the common question of ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ has been the same every time,” Tyler Reese says. “I want to be in the entertainment business. I want to sing, dance and entertain people and I hope it makes them happy. Making audiences happy would make me really happy.”
Fans of Travis will certainly be glad at a bit of news he revealed to CW: He recently reunited with his 1990s partner Marty Stuart in the studio to record songs for an album due next year on Post Oak Recordings.
“Marty’s not singing on it, but he’s playing on it. The Calm After . . . is very heavily produced, with a lot of instrumentation. We decided, why not for the next release, go the opposite direction?” Travis says. “It’s just me on guitar and Marty on acoustic guitar and mandolin. And we have upright acoustic bass, keyboards and light percussion, and that’s it. It gets things back to the basics.”
Despite The Calm After . . . marking Travis’ first new music in six years, the bluesy singer and guitar-slinger never quit touring, bringing hits like “Anymore,” “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde” and radio staple “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” to an increasingly young fan base.
“Since [“Great Day”] has been released, I’ve noticed that so many of the younger audience that come to our shows, come for that song,” Travis marvels. “I turned 50 this year, and because of all the styles we blend in, we’ve been able to bring a lot younger audience, compared to other artists who may be considered too twangy or too old-style country. I see so many young people out there, in their teens, going bananas. For me, as an entertainer, that’s what you hope and pray for.”
And who knows, by bringing along Tyler Reese for some of the shows, the crowd may get even more youthful.
“I thank God for it every day. I’m humbled by it. And more than anything else, I’m stoked by it. It makes me want to keep doing this,” Travis says. “As long as I can keep drawing that kind of audience in, I’ll do this until the day I die.”