Song In My Head: Kenny Chesney CD Review
Kenny Chesney is no doubt a country superstar. He’s sold over a million tickets for each one of his past 10 tours, making him one of the biggest ticket sellers of the 21st century. For me though, Kenny Chesney has always been that artist who is familiar yet unknown all at the same time. I was a big fan in his younger days, back in 1999 when he was swinging those hips in the She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy music video. Then, over time, he turned into the island boy that I just couldn’t quite connect with. He’d still have some amazing songs, but he gradually turned his style of music into a more laid-back sound. He was singing songs about life on a beach and here I was stuck in an office with no windows. Now, however, I decided to give Mr. Chesney another try and while, yes, he’s still singing those island songs, I have found that there is a familiarity in many of the experiences that he brings to his fourteenth studio album, Life On A Rock.
Life On A Rock is extremely personal for Chesney. He either wrote or co-wrote eight out of the ten songs. He wasn’t even planning on releasing most of them. Instead, he was just recalling random moments that he said, “at the time didn’t seem like much, but as seasons went by, meant so much more than I could have ever imagined.” While these moments may be personal for him, the audience can connect with many of the experiences that Chesney shares through song.
The song I connected the most with was When I See This Bar. Nostalgia kicked in hard when I heard it, making it my favorite track of the album. The beat is hypnotic and contagious. The lyrics can freeze time with lines like “Pieces of our past, slowly slip away/ But time just stands still/ When I walk in this place” but then become thought provoking with "And I see a kid coming into his own/ And a man learning to move on/ Somehow trying to find his way/ A dreamer betting on blind faith/ And changing that sun and following his heart.” So much is wrapped up in this one song that I'm glad for the six minute time frame. The ending just makes you want to link arms with old friends, hold a beer high, and sing.
Happy On The Hey Now (A Song For Kristi) is quite frankly, beautiful. It's a tribute to a lost friend but whereas you think you'll find sadness at this loss, you instead find remembrance and hope. The beginning sets up a soothing nature with the sound of waves crashing upon the shore. Chesney keeps the feeling going with a voice that is as smooth as ever. If you've ever lost a loved one, this is a song that touches deep.
If you're looking for songs with Chesney's signature island sound don't fret; there are still plenty on this album. Check out It's That Time Of Day, Spread The Love featuring The Wailers (who were also featured on Chesney's 2008 hit, Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven) and Coconut Tree, a duet with the ever delightful Willie Nelson. (Listen for some fun innuendoes with the last one.)
After listening to Life On A Rock, I have to say that my view of Kenny Chesney has changed. His song writing is on point and his voice has never been better. Chesney says, "A lot of living went into this album; I hope there’s a lot of living that goes into everyone listening to it," and I think that will be true of anyone that gives this one a spin.