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(MCA Records, 1995)

By Sandra L. Toney

Mark Chesnutt's fifth album, Wings, is not only inspirational and distinguished, it may well be his best release thus far. Of course, his smash albums, Almost Goodbye (MCA, 1993) and What a Way to Live (MCA, 1994), had quite a few hits come from them, such as "It Sure is Monday," "I Just Wanted You to Know," and, of course, the title song, all from Almost Goodbye. From What a Way to Live, "She Dreams" and "Goin' Through the Big D" offered Chesnutt some much-deserved recognition for his distinctive voice and music.

It would seem, after listening to his previous albums, especially the two mentioned above, that Mark Chesnutt couldn't do much better. After listening to Wings only a few times, I immediately knew that this country superstar's star is only getting brighter. Wings finds Chesnutt at his best!

He can croon a ballad with the best of them. Several on this release have the potential to become number one hits such as the song-of-regret, "(I Think) I've Finally Broken Mine." This ballad tells of all the times he's broken his lover's heart only to finally end up breaking his own, "One more chance, Lord, I've had so many/The last time you said next time it's the end/But I kept on throwin' rocks at the window of our future/Then beggin' your forgiveness once again." Other ballads on the album include "I May Be a Fool," "The King of Broken Hearts," "Settlin' for What They Get," and the pathetic reality of a one night stand, "Strangers."

Just as Chesnutt's sad songs are top quality, his upbeat tunes are also of the highest caliber. It is so obvious that he takes great pride in picking out the right blend of songs for each and every one of his albums. In fact, only two of the songs on the album are co-written by him (in contrast to many other country songsters who only put their own songs on their albums). Chesnutt can sing anybody's music well, not just his own.

Two of the best hits on the album have already been released as singles on the radio. "Trouble" is a catchy song with a good beat that tells the story of a married man who can't keep his eyes (and mind) off a woman who isn't his wife. He sings, "Well I told her wouldn't/I thought I couldn't/Now I'm so ashamed/When I look at you, it's all that I can do to think about what's-her-name."

Finally, "It Wouldn't Hurt to Have Wings," based on the title of the album, is one of those foot-tappin' songs that has Chesnutt wishing he could fly as he tells us, "But it wouldn't hurt to have wings/To lift me above/All the pain of the past/And your mind wreckin' love/They say time can fly like a magical thing/ But it sure wouldn't hurt to have wings."

If Mark Chesnutt's career keeps flying at this pace, he won't need to ask for wings. He's already gotten them.

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