Picks and Pans Review: Longnecks and Short Stories

updated 03/23/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/23/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mark Chesnutt

By contrast to their eloquently cynical Nashville forebears, most of today's young male country singers tend to err on the side of de-emphasizing the negative. Chesnutt, a 28-year-old Texan, is a happy exception.

Consider the song titles in this second album: "Who Will the Next Fool Be?"; "Bubba Shot the Jukebox"; "Old Flames Have New Names"; "Uptown Downtown (Misery's All the Same)" (a tune written by Ron Peterson and Harlan Howard that is similar in tone to the current hit "Better Class of Losers," by another neo-curmudgeon, Randy Travis,) and "Talkin' to Hank," a fantasy about Hank Williams Sr. offering such advice as "Well, you know you better get your hat, son, and get on out of the way when they start hating love and loving to hate."

Chesnutt, backed by such studio stalwarts as steel-guitarist Paul Franklin, sings these laments in a musical baritone that lacks only the deeper signs of Jonesian or Nelsonian world-weariness. So what if his voice is insufficiently grizzled? His heart is in the right place: lying by the side of the road, all stomped-on and bleeding. (MCA)

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