Most fans know that Mark Chesnutt is a dying breed in country music, among the last in line of a particular tradition. Chesnutt spent a full decade trying to get signed before his manager Joe Ladd scored him a deal with MCA in the early '90s. Chesnutt's Rollin' with the Flow is another steady, consistent, remarkable country record, filled with great songs, amazing musicians, stellar production, and -- of course -- his clear, clean, expressive voice. It also seemed in mid-2008 that music fans were rediscovering his brand of no-frills, clean-sounding country. The dozen tracks on Chesnutt's 12th album on the independent Lofton Creek Records reflect, that after 22 years in the music biz, he remains a solid and completely trustworthy artist who delivers no matter the setting. Producer Jimmy Ritchey assembled an all-star cast, including bassist Glenn Worf and guitarists B. James Lowry and Brent Mason, with drummers Eddie Bayers and Lonnie Wilson, among others, reflecting the singer's deep commitment to modern honky tonk music. These days, this is as straight-up country as you're likely to find. The song selection contains a pair of originals by Chesnutt as well as a few by Ritchey and Bob Regan, including the opener, "Things to Do in Wichita," a midtempo guitar-drenched ballad that feels like a road trip song. Chesnutt sings in his winsome baritone about the many miniscule things he does to kill time while waiting for his estranged girlfriend to call. The title track, written by Jerry Hayes, is another shimmering ballad about living through the changes he's endured during the process of road rambling. These are both sad songs, but they also transfer honest emotion and tell stories that people can insert themselves into and empathize with. There's also great humor here, as in the rollicking "(Come on In) The Whiskey's Fine," which feels like an update of "High Friends in Low Places." (Chesnutt recorded the song before Garth Brooks.) Add to this the midtempo rocking country blues of "If the Devil Brought You Roses." In sum, anybody remotely interested in real country music these days needs to seek out Rollin' with the Flow; it's as solid an album as Chesnutt's ever recorded -- which is saying plenty.
Rollin' with the Flow Review
by Thom Jurek