Heard It in a Love Song
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11
Written by John Metzger
During the first half of the í90s, Mark Chesnutt was a regular fixture within the upper echelon of the country music charts. As the decade progressed, however, the industry traded its new traditionalist twang for a more pop-oriented approach, and Chesnutt found it increasingly difficult to survive. Though he managed to achieve some semblance of crossover appeal with his cover of Diane Warrenís I Donít Want to Miss a Thing, he clearly had moved outside of his comfort zone. Even worse, the lack of focus that was instigated by his chasing the market meant that he no longer was able to sustain his knack for generating hits. Not surprisingly, he soon was dumped from MCA, and his subsequent tenure with Columbia was limited to a single self-titled outing.
Determined to stage a comeback, Chesnutt returned to more familiar terrain on his 2004 effort Saviní the Honky Tonk, and his latest outing Heard It in a Love Song continues to traverse a similar path. Conceptually, his new album serves as a tribute to his influences, and throughout the endeavor, he tackles songs that were written by or have been associated with the likes of George Jones (Apartment #9), Merle Haggard (A Shoulder to Cry On), Waylon Jennings (Dreaming My Dreams with You), and Hank Williams (Lost Highway). Thereís little doubt that Chesnuttís voice remains a remarkably smooth and pliant instrument, and he uses it to tremendous effect on both the honky-tonk groove of That Good That Bad as well as on the pedal steel-drenched title track. Elsewhere, his backing band helps to keep Hank Williams, Jr.ís You Canít Find Many Kissers loose and playful, while Aaron Tillís melancholy fiddle accompaniment wrings the teardrops from A Hard Secret to Keep. The biggest problem with the collection undoubtedly is that Chesnutt fails to leave his own imprint upon the material, but his mannerisms are so effortlessly heartfelt and honest that Heard It in a Love Song succeeds in its bid to provide an overview of classic country sounds.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box