To say that Mark Chestnutt walks the walk is an understatement. Long before the rise of bro country, Chestnutt's 1998 cover of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss Thing" hit number 1, but after that, his career stalled.
More than a decade later, "Tradition Lives" is an aptly titled 13-song effort that never veers from the old school path. There is no title track, which underscores the idea that the collection is a cohesive theme and not lead single driven. From the swing dancing leadoff. "I've Got A Quarter In My Pocket" to the closer, "There Won't Be Another Now," the 48 minutes winds its way through love, heartbreak, cheating and memories of the good old days. Fiddle, pedal steel and fast picking Telecasters are in abundance. The literal "Hot" is almost polite in its purity. It contains every obvious reference to the actual temperature and none to women. "She Oughta Miss Me By Now" is a breakup song that contains traces of Nineties gloss, when he gained recognition. It is reminiscent of vintage Tim McGraw, which Chestnutt sounds remarkably like here.
"There have been times in the last several years when music changed that guys doing what I do seemed to be pushed off in the corner somewhere. And the new guys coming out doin' whatever they're calling country music - I'm sorry, I don't mean to offend anybody, but some of that stuff I hear and see on the awards shows now, I don't know what in the hell that is," Chesnutt said in a recent interview.
He sings in "Never Been To Texas, "They say you can't sell the truth no more, the kind that Jones and Hag are famous for." It feels like Chestnutt seems to think maybe it's still possible.