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Album Review: “Lucky Old Sun” by Kenny Chesney

October 14, 2008

Lucky Old Sun Deluxe

3.5 Stars

Kenny Chesney has been making waves in country music for years trying new sounds and styles to find what fits him the most. Twelve albums later he believes he has finally found a legitimate sound for him and his fans to enjoy. The biggest beach bum and probably the most popular entertainer in the modern country universe, Kenny has a lot of cushion to try something new without putting his career on the line. The big question is whether this album really does do justice to the man who has spent years searching for himself and working towards his own musical and mental identity.

This album, in the simplest explanation, has everything you would expect from Kenny, but nothing you would expect to hear. What I mean by that is that this album has the tropical feel of Kenny’s classical ventures and contains some powerful references to island life and kickin it back, but the entirety of the album approaches this carelessness and love for having fun in the sun in a way that fans have never heard before. Throughout all of his works Kenny has never sounded so laid back, comfortable and relaxed with himself and his music. Take the first single for example. “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven” continues Chesney’s encouragement for enjoying a laid back life, but instead of incorporating the higher range and hard core instrumentals of songs like “Living In Fast Forward” and “Summertime”, it’s much more smooth and relaxed and we find Kenny enjoying himself more rather than trying to ensure his listeners do as well.

This same aspect of purity and relaxation from Kenny’s voice is surprisingly present throughout the entirety of this project. Other fun songs like “Keys In The Conch Shell” and “Ten With A Two” (Willie Nelson cover) contain the same laid back, relaxed performance that manages to stay in the same league as any Kenny fan favorites without him trying to hard to relate it to them more than himself. This time around the connection seems mutual. Kenny is more confident with the fact that if he enjoys his own music the fans will too.

There are many much more personal songs in this project that continue to help Kenny shine brighter than he has in quite a while. The opening track “I’m Alive” brings Kenny together with Dave Matthews in a relaxed and almost haunting look at how despite the falters and difficulties of life, it’s not the end of everything. Other tunes connect with Kenny’s island life while still being quite relative to his listeners in their own way. “Boats” creates a smooth revelation of how careless and peaceful life can be on the sea for people of all situations and walks of life while “Way Down Here” is about how the islands or even just a place so personal to you can be the best place to go with your down, the islands of course being the place Kenny has endured many heartaches from lost love to a struggling career. That being said songs like these allow the listener to actually understand why the islands are so important to Kenny through his own eyes.

Topping off the entire album is the fact that this likely is in fact the most personal and relative album for Kenny as a person and an artist. While every song has a sense of personal connection and relevance, none show more powerful and heartfelt renditions than “Nowhere To Go, Nowhere To Be” and “Spirit Of A Storm”. “Nowhere To Go, Nowhere To Be” is the only fully self penned tune by Kenny on this album, and one of 5 he had a hand in writing, and has Kenny explaining how getting away and shifting from the regularities of life once in a while can be the best thing in the world. Possibly the most personal, “Spirit Of A Storm” is very autobiographical and focuses on Kenny’s own personal soul through different aspects of his life and even his career. The album closes with the title track, a compilation with Willie Nelson, which appropriately brings everything to a close on the note that people can’t be as peaceful and free as something like the lucky old sun, we need to work towards it one way or another.

After 12 albums, countless awards and years of trying Kenny has finally established a sense of self in his music and in his performance. He took a huge risk trying to incorporate his own familiar sound, his tropical country mix, and toning it down to give something totally different from his traditional work for his fans to enjoy. In the end this project shows off a lot of personal connection between Kenny and his music. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a nice experiment that serves as an interesting experience for both Kenny and his fans.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeremy D permalink
    March 25, 2009 6:03 pm

    This album is the worst album i bought in 2008. It has a stale vocal delivery. The best song on the album in a cover of Willie’s “Ten with a Two.” Kenny has become overrated and predictable. I had high expectations for this record. It lack creativeness, and the album will be forgotten. This wins entertainer of the year every year, but he is hardly the talent of George Strait or Alan Jackson or even Jamey Johnson, Brad Paisley. I feel like i have been sold a used car when it was supposed to be new.

  2. cowboybleau permalink*
    March 25, 2009 7:28 pm

    You know Jeremy, after listening to it over and over agin, I agree with you. At first listen for me this was a 3 1/2 star proiject, but now its more in the range of 3, 2 1/2. I like many of the songs, but after a while it does get pretty boring.

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