Songs For The Saints, by Kenny Chesney
While I managed to buy Kenny Chesney’s 2020 album and enjoyed it, the previous album to this one, recorded to provide some help to his neighbors in the Virgin Islands, slipped by my notice at the time when the album was released, and I thought it would be worthwhile to give the album a listen and to see if it is something that would resonate with me better for having been to the islands themselves. This album was certainly not a commercial high point for Kenny Chesney, but given that he is still making successful country music and building a new home on St. John, clearly he has a high degree of fondness for his adopted home in the islands.
The album begins with the titular “Song For The Saints,” expressing his defiance against the hurricane in a gentle pop-rock song that lets everyone know that no storm is going to tell him where he can go. “Every Heart” reflects on some of the metaphorical state of hearts that are islands in a storm trying to survive, and recognizing the need to connect rather than remain isolated. “Get Along,” the big hit from the album, is a laid back song about trying to cope with life’s difficulties. “Pirate Song” expresses Chesney’s desire to live a romantic pirate life, desiring to fly under his flag and live freely. “Love For Love City,” featuring Ziggy Marley, shows Chesney’s love for all of the people of the Virgin Islands and his commitment to their well-being. “Ends Of The Earth” is a standout track that calls upon a loved one to follow him in his life’s journeys even as he finds himself increasingly concerned he will end up living alone. “Gulf Moon” provides a story of the denizens of a watering hole and their struggles. “Island Rain” provides a look at a gentle island rain that brings freedom, including freedom you might not be aware you were looking for. “Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season” features fellow Virgin Islands neighbor Jimmy Buffet, whose Margaritaville Resort is on St. Thomas. “We’re All Here” provides an optimistic expression of the imperfection of human beings trying to make it. “Better Boat,” featuring Mindy Smith, is an ode to friendship in the face of isolation and the goal of self-improvement.
“Songs For The Saints” provides a telling picture of Chesney’s feelings about his neighbors and about his island home. If this album is by no means a commercial peak for the artist, it is a coherent album about flawed people trying to make it that expresses Chesney’s own feelings of determination to live freely and to enjoy the peace of mind that island life has apparently brought him. This album finds Chesney both defiant but not in an unpleasant way, resolute, refusing to be overwhelmed by the weather, and determined to stand by his neighbors in the Virgin Islands. This album is a tangible expression of his commitment to his adopted island home, and it is a strong collection of songs that definitely deserves to be appreciated.