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Review: Mark Chesnutt returns with new album ‘Tradition Lives’

As mentioned above, it’s been six years since the last Mark Chesnutt album, but you’d have to go back even further for the last Mark Chesnutt album of new material.

Rollin’ with the Flow from 2008 was a pretty good record (one thing this neo-traditionalist has been throughout his long career is consistent) and I was keen to hear how Tradition Lives measured up to that and to those classic albums from the early 1990s, Too Cold at Home and Longnecks & Short Stories.

There were early signs that this CD might actually live up to its title, as far as ‘keeping it country’ is concerned (unlike Easton Corbin’s 2015 album About to Get Real), and my foot instantly started tapping the moment groovy honky-tonker “I’ve Got a Quarter in My Pocket” kicked in.

This was followed by the mournful, yet thought-provoking, “Is It Still Cheating” before that foot started tapping once again, this time to “Lonely Ain’t the Only Game in Town.”

The lead-off single is “Oughta Miss Me by Now” and although it has a solid chorus, for me it didn’t bring quite as much joy as the three tunes that preceded it.

The atmospheric and downbeat “So You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” sounds like it could be played over the end credits of a western, while “You Moved Up in Your World” is a lovely sentiment.

That wonderful voice sounds as good as ever on “Losing You All Over Again,” “Never Been to Texas” and the jazzy “Hot.” The last track, a bonus track, is the stripped-down “There Won’t Be Another Now,” an emotive tribute to two deceased country icons, Red Lane and Merle Haggard.

Not Chesnutt’s best work as a complete package (the excellent first three songs were always going to be hard to follow), but an enjoyable listen and a very welcome return nevertheless.

As a fan of this tireless purveyor of traditional country, what was most pleasing for me about this was that he chose to stick with a winning formula – thus ensuring a second wave of mainstream success when the tide finally turns and we see an explosive return to that steel and fiddle-led sound (here’s hoping!).

Tradition Lives will be available from July 8.

For more on Mark Chesnutt, visit his official website.

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