One of the occupational hazards of being a chart watcher is that one becomes aware of deals that are offered by artists looking to maximize their chart position. So, the opportunity to get an album of Kenny Chesney originals for very cheap was too much for me to overlook. And while I am a casual fan of the artist, I must say I have never listened to a full album of his before, and so this particular album is a bit of a test to see if my mild enjoyment of the artist’s singles translates into an enjoyment of his albums. If it does, I might end up being part of the “No Shoes Nation” that makes up the singer’s fans.
Here is a track-by-track review:
We Do – Chesney’s voice is smooth and there is beautiful guitar and piano here as he sings a life-affirming song about living and freedom. I could see this becoming a rousing post-Coronavirus anthem to celebrate the return of freedom.
Here And Now – The title track and second single off of this album, this song expresses a gratefulness to be alive, a very timely message. This particular song also reflects a retrospective look at his experiences and how they have shaped him, from his love of various places to the past relationships that have not always gone well.
Everyone She Shows – This is an interesting story about what it means to be a single woman who wants to enjoy life and struggles with the fact that all of her friends are getting married and having children. I can definitely relate to the feeling of loneliness that this song represents and the desire to make the best of what life has to provide.
Wasted – This is a story song that discusses the narrator’s discussion with a down-and-out former star who strangely does not regret the way that he squeezed the juice out of the good life with loving and loving and boats and the high life. One can even think of this as a bit of the singer’s own approach to life, singing about himself a bit, perhaps.
Knowing You – This song is a somewhat wistful and bittersweet reflection on an ex who made the narrator (and presumably the singer) felt alive but who has definitively left his life and moved on, something the narrator accepts with considerable good grace.
Heartbreakers – With an upbeat music beat, this song contains a somewhat reflective tone as the narrator reflects on past flings and wonders what happened to the wild renegades he used to run around with, asking whether they grew old and found someone to hold or if they were the same way they used to be.
Someone To Fix – This midtempo song is a somewhat moody and melancholy discussion of a relationship where the partner the narrator is singing to wants someone to run around with and have fun with but ends up with someone to fix, a brutal but not uncommon fate.
Happy Does – Yet another story song, this upbeat number shows the narrator praising a man who is happy despite having a lot of reasons not to be, showing that the right attitude can overcome the sorts of experiences and temptations that lead many people into bitterness.
Tip Of My Tongue – The first single off of the album, this was a minor hit, and it is an immensely sensual song with spare instrumentation in the verses to focus the listener’s attention on the expression of a man’s desire to please his woman with his tongue.
You Don’t Get To – This is a song that honestly and somewhat bitterly reflects on a relationship that the narrator has not gotten over, pointing out that after all that the ex put him through, she doesn’t get to know about what he’s up to or enjoy his love and affection.
Beautiful World – This is a song that shows the narrator reflecting on the enjoyment of life, music, and the beauties of creation in the awareness of the challenges of life and the mysterious workings of divine providence. This is a beautiful song about appreciating the good in what life provides us, a worthwhile sentiment.
Guys Named Captain – This slow and gorgeously produced song shows the narrator singing about a subject he knows a lot about, the complexities and lifestyle of guys named captain in contemporary dive bars as well as historical pirates and navies and merchant marines. The narrator’s celebration of the freedom and joy of the sea is undercut by a strong sense of melancholy about the loss of good friends.
Best Songs: Here And Now, Everyone She Knows, Heartbreakers, Tip Of My Tongue
Worst Songs: None
This is an album that shares a few overarching themes and approaches. All of these songs are basically story songs, some of which appear to resonate closely with the singer himself and others which show him to be a sympathetic observer of the foibles and follies of other people who are not all that different from himself. The album has a reflective approach throughout as the author sings about middle aged people with exes (including ex-wives), or struggles with pressures from relatives to marry and settle down, or the desire to enjoy what is good and beautiful in this world world while one reflects on the loss and mortality of life. As a middle-aged listener, a few of these songs hit me in the feels and they demonstrate the best of a mature but not tired approach to music. This album is solid throughout and represents a definite late-career renaissance for the country veteran and an album well worth enjoying if you want to hear stories about people with a strong desire to be free and a great deal of self-awareness about the highs and lows of what life and relationships have to offer.