In his own relaxed sort of way, Mark Chesnutt is a hard country artist to the core. Savin’ the Honky Tonk finds him reverting to his traditionalist roots without rebel bluster or purist preening. Instead, this Lone Star veteran interprets a superior batch of material in the easy-going style that made him a radio favorite in the ‘90s. Backed by an A-list crew of Nashville players, Chesnutt is by turns funny, desperate, and seductive, cracking a smile and misting over in all the right places. He slides into his Southern Romeo mode on “Would These Arms Be in Your Way” (a duet with Lee Ann Womack) and lets his redneck flag fly on “Beer Bait and Ammo.” With songs like “The Lord Loves a Drinkin’ Man,” “Don’t Ruin It for the Rest of Us,” and the title tune, Chesnutt offers a toast to the longneck-tilting, heartache-nursing culture of beer joints across the U.S.A. Mark’s soulfully deep tenor is in top form — in “A Hard Secret to Keep,” he makes the word “paranoia” sound like sweet talk. Savin’ the Honky Tonk is a lovingly-done salute to barroom balladry, served up by an artist born to sing its praises.