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Mark Chesnutt

Savin' the Honky Tonk – 2004 (Vivaton)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Mark Chesnutt

Theme albums never really caught on in C&W, but Mark Chesnutt might just change that with his label debut. After all, just about every track here concerns alcohol consumption and the joy of gin joints. Oh sure, there's a couple love songs here ("Would These Arms Be In Your Way" wherein Lee Ann Womack lends her vocal talents) and a cheatin' song or two ("A Hard Secret to Keep"), but for the most part it's all aqua vitae all the time.

Whether it's praise for the plethora of products available at these holes-in-the-walls ("Beer, Bait and Ammo") or thankin' the woman that drove you to drink ("My Best Drinkin'") or the perfect meldin' of Saturday night and Sunday mornin' (on "The Lord Loves a Drinkin' Man") just about every track on this album is goin' to sound even better with neon lights above you and a cold draft beer in front of you.

Mark Chesnutt is too modest. It's not just the "cinder block shacks 'cross the county line" he's tryin' to rescue here - it's country music, at least that part of country that you used to hear on the jukebox at your favorite waterin' hole before it became yuppified. And if they've got music this good on those jukeboxes there, then for that reason alone they're worth savin'.