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Outlaw

Mark Chesnutt

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Album Review

Though he arrived in Nashville during a different time period with the rest of the "new traditionalists," Mark Chesnutt was always a breed apart. His time with the majors netted him some hits, but he hasn't been recording for the biggies for eight years now. His independent records have been consistent, sticking close to his love for honky tonk and roots country. As a title, Outlaw may be an outdated term in the industry, but Chesnutt doesn't care. On this 12 song-set recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Pete Anderson, Chesnutt pays tributes to the heroes of his youth, covering songs by Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams, Jr., Guy Clark, David Allan Coe, Shel Silverstein, and others. All of these songs have been covered before and often, and Chesnutt doesn't do anything revolutionary with any of them — and that's the point: perfection needs no improvement. Beginning with Shaver's "Black Rose," you can actually feel the presence of its author The sentiment expressed in Hank Jr.'s "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound" is a reflection of the truth in a life lived rather than a party anthem. In Jennings' arrangement of Neil Young's "Ready for the Country" — featuring dueling slide guitars and fiddles — the listener can hear Waylon's ghost. The desolation in Kristofferson's "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" and "Lovin' Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)," the desolation, and the strain of pained memory and loss are not hinted at, they're expressed as grief bravely articulated. Chesnutt and Anderson have turned in a no-frills, solid, lean, mean, rocking, emotionally sincere tribute to the outlaw generation, which is, in many ways, an extension of Chesnutt's own persona; these guys were the reasons he got into the business in the first place.

Customer Reviews

Heartfelt covers of ‘70s outlaw classics

Like many fine artists discarded by the mainstream Country music machine, Mark Chesnutt’s artistry has grown even as his commercial fame has waned. Having parted with his last major label (Columbia) after an eponymous release in 2002, Chesnutt released a series of indie albums that returned to his hard-country roots. Starting with 2004’s Savin’ the Honky Tonk, Chesnutt developed a sound that favored the twang of the roadhouse over the processed sound of the studio. On this latest, Chesnutt returns to the inspiring songs of his youth, covering titles written or made famous by friends and heroes that include Billy Joe Shaver, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, David Allan Coe, and Hank Williams Jr. Producer Pete Anderson’s reigned in the production touches with which he pushed Dwight Yoakam, delivering Chesnutt classic arrangements of guitar, fiddle and steel that focus on the songs and singing. The album is a tribute, but settles even more easily into the sort of dancehall Saturday night that leaves you smiling on Sunday morning… once the hangover’s gone. The vocals generally follow the originals’ templates, but the productions shed the studio sounds of the 1970s and 80s. Anderson’s guitar is meatier than the original on “Are You Ready for the Country,” the string arrangement of Kristofferson’s “Lovin’ Her Was Easier” is changed into a mournful fiddle, and “Sunday Morning Coming Down” is played without the dramatic climbs of the original. The song list is a combination of tunes Chesnutt’s been singing live for years, including “Black Rose,” “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line” and “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound,” treasured album cuts like Waylon Jennings’ “Freedom to Stay,” and tunes suggested by his label, including “Desperados Waiting for a Train.” Many of these are songs that Chesnutt’s long loved, but for various reasons (often, the difficulty of learning the wordy lyrics) he’d never sung. In a couple of cases, such as with “Black Rose,” he dug back past the version he knew, by Waylon Jennings, to the original approach of the song’s writer, Billy Joe Shaver. In other cases, such as with “A Couple More Years,” he stuck with his memories of the hit, by Dr. Hook. The album was cut in Los Angeles, and Chesnutt and Anderson took only two nights to get masters for all thirteen vocals – a mark of their preparation and the synergy the pair found in the vocal booth. Anderson adds plenty of hard guitar twang throughout the album, and the backing band includes Gary Morse (pedal steel), Donny Reed (fiddle) and Mickey Raphael (harmonica). While this doesn’t push Chesnutt forward, it’s a great opportunity to hear a terrific country vocalist sing some great country songs. 3-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

Great Album but MAJOR itunes glitch

Mark does it again and even with new versions of some classic Outlaw era songs. So much better than today's ACMish sound alikes of the blended Carrie Underwood/Sugarland/Taylor Swift/Miranda Lambert/Steel Magnolia songs being overplayed on country radio these days. And to add to the listening pleasure of outlaw it actually sounds like country and not pop music. The itunes issue i had was that I had purchased the lead single last week and then went to purchase the album this week the "complete my album" button didnt work on this one. I had to re-purchase the whole album.

Classic Chesnutt

Mark Chesnutt Came out in the easrly 90s with hits of his on But Now he is Back with a Collection of Songs that will blow you away These Songs are Timeless Wow Mark really did a goodjob the Outlaws would be proud I hope he does more outlaws songs Great Job Mark Mark is keeping the Outlaw music alive I hope Nashville take a listen and gets back to the country sounds not the pop sound I give this CD two thumbs up great job Mark

Biography

Born: September 6, 1963 in Beaumont, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Neo-honky tonker Mark Chesnutt parlayed a solid grounding in classic country into chart-topping stardom during the '90s. Born in Beaumont, TX, in 1963, Chesnutt grew up listening to his father's extensive country-record collection (Bob Chesnutt had been a locally popular singer who never hit it big, and thus worked as a used-car salesman). Chesnutt learned both guitar and drums, and made his professional singing debut with his father's band at age 15 on the local club scene. He even dropped out of...
Full Bio