Chalee Tennison,
Parading in the Rain
(SKG, 2003)

I am not the biggest fan of country music by any stretch of the imagination. But every once in a while, I do hear an album that is especially worth mentioning. Such is the case with Parading in the Rain by Chalee Tennison. While this was my first time to run across her music, she has released prior albums: Chalee Tennison in 1999 and This Woman's Heart in 2000.

What I really like about Chalee is that she tackles the same issues that country music likes to tackle -- breakups, heartaches, abusive relationships, drinking problems -- yet she twists the subject in a positive way. A great example is the title track, "Parading in the Rain." The last two lines of the chorus simply state that "It's not rainin' on my parade / I'm paradin' in the rain" -- just a simple placement of words, but such different meanings. In other words, you look at the same situation, but you decide whether to see the positive or negative in it.

Perhaps you have seen the video of "Easy Lovin' You," a song about having a baby at 17. While it was the singer's worst mistake at the time, it has turned out to be the best thing she ever did. There Chalee goes again -- looking at the positive in what would be considered a negative situation by most folks. The CD actually has a behind-the-scenes extra about the making of this video. If you watch it, you will get the impression that Chalee is a bubbly, light-hearted soul who still has the exuberance of youth. Reaching her mid-30s has not dampened her spirit in the least! (For those of you who think it is wrong to reveal a lady's age, she posts her birthdate on her website.)

My favorite song from this CD is "Me and Mexico." When her lover tells her that their love is going south, what does she do? She heads to Mexico to try and find it/him. (That almost sounds like a blonde joke). While in Mexico, surrounded by strangers, she realizes that she is better off without this relationship. Now that her eyes are open (and she's had a little tequila), she sees the situation as an improvement. This is quite the upbeat song for somebody getting dumped.

The actual music is very reminiscent of modern country -- sometimes crossing slightly to pop -- that you hear on country radio stations. Chalee at times sounds like Tanya Tucker, at time like Lorrie Morgan. Since I do not have vast country listening experience, I can't say what the hook is on the album. All I can say is that I like it. I think Parading in the Rain is worth buying. At first, I was a little disappointed that I had not heard of Chalee back in 1999 when she was an ACM Top New Female Vocalist Nominee. However, I've decided to look at the situation in a positive light like Chalee would. I have two more CDs of her music to go check out now while current fans are going to have to wait for album No. 4!

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 27 March 2004

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