Rollin’ With the Flow
Outside of Dwight Yoakam, I’m not aware of a traditional country singer who has recently put out a finer string of albums than Mark Chesnutt. He delivers honky tonk shuffles and teary barroom misery in a manner that is reminiscent of Gene Watson at his peak, and never fails to unearth quality material.
Chesnutt may not have had a Billboard top ten since 1999, but the strength of his performances has not declined. The material is strong, with the majority of the songs catchy enough or significantly impressive to stand up to repeated listening. True, “Live to Be 100” doesn’t develop either lyrically or instrumentally, but it is definitely the exception among the dozen tracks.
Backed by a crew of Nashville instrumental heavyweights, “When You Love Her Like Crazy” and “Rollin with the Flow” are a cut above typical country radio fare, and while “(Come On In) The Whiskey’s Fine” is a throwaway number, it is no less enjoyable to drive along to when the windows are down. While embracing his Waylon Jennings and Hank Jr. influence, Chesnutt is his own singer and has a well-developed, easily recognizable style of singing that serves him well. He’ll never be George Jones, but he seems comfortable being Mark Chesnutt.
The autobiographical “Long Way to Go” name-checks Waylon as Chesnutt describes his country music ride. “Man in the Mirror” is a reflective song and reminds the listener a little of Vern Gosdin.
Rollin’ With the Flow is a darn fine country music album. Nothing pretentious here, just fine country music.