Album Review -Mark Chesnutt, “Tradition Lives”¬†

Album Review -Mark Chesnutt, “Tradition Lives”¬†

Released in July 2016 to the suprise of many who thought Chesnutt was well past his music prime, this is one of the definitive albums this year.Steeped in tradition, this album makes it seem like it’s still the 90s and Mark is still in his MCA/Decca heyday of hits. While he has fell aside as a independent artist, I look for this years release to become as legendary as Sturgill Simpson’s independent records are becoming . It’s that good, and as needed in our current music climate.

Best track on the cd is “Is It Still Cheating” where both partners are cheating on the other and the question is asked “Is it still cheating, If we’re both lighting. It’s a honest look at the pain and implications of cheating on a spouse and I’ve never heard it put this way. Who says Nashville has no original ideas? 

Most remincent of Mark’s 90s hits is opener “Quarter in My Pocket” and “Oughta Miss Me By Now”. Both would sound at home in his greatest hits collection, and “Oughta” was a great choice for a single. It’s just too bad great music like this gets overlooked.

“Neither Did I” is a example of the list song did right, listing things the protagonist didn’t know his woman could do when she ran him off. Anybody else but Chesnutt probably couldn’t pull this off in such a witty and charming way.

“So You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” is another highlight on the album. At first glance it seems like a breakup song, which it is, just not with a woman. This is a honest look at the relationship between a alcoholic and the drink, and the realization that it’s time to walk away because it’s ruining him. A drinking song withat consequences ( unheard of in the bro Era right?).

“Look At Me Now” is a heartbreak song remincent of Mark’s hero Waylon Jennings, with a simple but effective lyric and the twang of a telecaster front and center.

“Never Been To Texas” would be Chesnutt’s kiss off to Nashville, as much as the album title is in my opinion.

Everyone’s convinced up and down Music Row

Ain’t nobody left that wants to hear drinking songs

They say you can’t sell the truth no more
The kind that Jones and Hank are famous for

[Chorus]
I guess they’ve never been to Texas
When the sun went down
Once the parking lots fill up
At every beer joint around
I heard the whole bar sing along
With she started liking cheating songs
I’ve been a witness to a hardwood floor
When I simply couldn’t hold no more
If they had they wouldn’t feel that way
They’d admit the past was here to stay
But they won’t because the fact is
They ain’t never been to Texas

[Verse 2]
Some predict in fifteen years or less
We’ll all agree to change things for the best
Now we’ll be glad, ain’t no more steel guitars
But if they think we’re gonna let it go that far


Chorus]
I guess they’ve never been to Texas
When the sun went down
Once the parking lots fill up
At every beer joint around
I heard the whole bar sing along
To she
 started liking cheating songs

I’ve been a witness to a hardwood floor

When I simply couldn’t hold no more
If they had they wouldn’t feel that way
They’d admit the past was here to stay
But they won’t because the fact is
They ain’t never been to Texas

The biggest suprise on the album has to be next to last track “Hot”. This song sounds like a hillbilly Sinatra song with some dobro threw in, and is the only break from traditional in the whole album. It’s a song about well, a hot summer day, just being hot. Not a lot of substance here but it’s a fun break from the heartache of the rest of the cd.

The end song is just Chesnutt and a guitar, and is another standout track. “There Won’t Be Another Now” is a beautiful love song about treasuring the time with that special person. This song spotlights Mark’s voice, one of the best at conveying emotions in country in my opinion, better than any track on the album.This song was added last minute as a tribute to the late great Merle Haggard, one of Chesnutt’s friends and heroes. A fitting way to end a perfect album, one The Hag would’ve been proud of.

I didn’t hit every song, just the ones that stood out the most so this review wasn’t long and overbearing. But I highly recommend buying this cd and listening cover to cover, hell buy copies for your friends and remind them what real country music sounds like. The more people hear and connect and know music like this is there, the less we hear Luke Bryan and Chris Lane’s bs.

I don’t hesitate in saying wonderful job Mark! We need to hear more from you, don’t let it be 6 years between originals this time! 5 STARS

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