No one sings a ”hurtin’ song” better than George Jones, although these two newcomers would like to try. Chesnutt, who hails from Jones’ hometown of Beaumont, Tex., and got the Master to endorse him in his liner notes, has a comely, smooth baritone and a supple way of moving through his vocal range. Alas, his album of largely honky-tonk laments, Too Cold at Home, is stocked with too many cover songs, catching fire only on the title track, in which a bored husband weighs the merits of an easy pickup, and on the rhythmic ”Blame It on Texas.”
While Chesnutt merely takes his inspiration from Jones, Diffie mimics Jones’ delivery, right down to the enunciation, the mournful quaver, and the full-register slide he patented long ago. In A Thousand Winding Roads, Diffie is also adept at imitating a score of other country stars, especially Merle Haggard (on Diffie’s recent No. 1 single, ”Home”) and Keith Whitley. This talent undoubtedly came in handy during his days as a demo singer. But now that he’s making records himself, it drops him to the rear of the pack, as a stylist with little style of his own.