With his gravel-in-a-blender voice, Travis Tritt was a refreshing change from the parade of neo-traditional hat acts; his first two albums (Country Club, It’s All About to Change) were barn burners with the energetic zeal of the Confederacy itself. However, on his third album, T-R-O-U-B-L-E, Tritt figured out what worked for him-Dixie-fried country-rockers, sensitive love ballads- and put it all through the recycler. On Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof (Warner Bros.), Tritt once more plows familiar ground. The big hell-raiser this time is the title cut, a paean to losers everywhere that is both Southern rock and vintage honky-tonk. The heartbreak ballad ”Tell Me I Was Dreaming” boasts a burrow-in-the-brain melody, but he can’t pull off the pathos of ”Between an Old Memory and Me,” an underrated gem originally recorded by Keith Whitley. After that, it’s pretty much Xerox time, including another song by frequent collaborator Marty Stuart.
The most disappointing track, though, is the self-mythologizing ”Outlaws Like Us,” where Hank Williams Jr. and Waylon Jennings welcome their younger buddy Travis to the club, and Tritt takes another poke at his favorite target, Billy Ray Cyrus. ”Travis,” Jennings says to him at the song’s close, ”you may just be the best. But I think you need a hat.” Tritt doesn’t really need a Stetson-he just needs to keep a lid on his ego and his own cliches.