Picks and Pans Review: Chalee Tennison
Tennison, 30, has taken a round-about route to country music stardom: She is a former prison guard in Gatesville, Texas. A three-time divorcée with three kids, ages 3, 7 and 12, she also had never set foot in Nashville until three years ago. What Tennison lacks in standard credentials, however, she makes up for in raw talent, singing in a rich, sturdy voice with a heartfelt intensity reminiscent of Loretta Lynn or Tammy Wynette.
Tennison and her producer Jerry Taylor chose an appropriate set of women-done-wrong songs, topped by Marv Green and John Bettis's slightly vindictive "It Ain't So Easy" ("The bed's too big, the night's too long/ You think too much, and I'm too gone"). Tennison herself co-wrote another of the album's highlights, "Someone Else's Turn to Cry," while Bat McGrath and Billy Kirsch penned the affectingly melancholy "I Can Feel You Drifting."
Tennison, though she was raised with small-town roots in central Texas, comes across with a more urban sound, a bit like K.T. Oslin. Both bring uncommon maturity to their country music.
Bottom Line: Late-starter locks up a winner