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Kenny Chesney

I Will Stand – 1997 (BNA)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Kenny Chesney

For his fourth album, East Tennessee native Chesney has turned to the production team of Norro Wilson and Buddy Cannon, a pair at home with traditional hard country but also capable of overseeing radio-friendly rave-ups and ballads. The result is a strong album that should solidify Chesney's reputation as an up-and-comer. Chesney's career so far has been built largely on ballads, and there are several fine ones here, including the title track. But there are also some more up-tempo numbers, notably the album's first single, "She's Got It All."

Chesney has a pleasant, distinctive voice capable of finding the emotion in even less-than-stellar material, and the arrangements wisely highlight great pedal steel from Sonny Garrish, lending a strong country feel to the proceedings. The real strength, though, resides in three long numbers holding down the middle of the album: "That's Why I'm Here," an unflinching look at alcoholism, "Steamy Windows," a swamp-rocker from the pen of Tony Joe White (originally recorded by Tina Turner), and the hard country "From Hillbilly Heaven To Honky Tonk Hell," featuring guest vocals by Tracy Lawrence and George Jones. It's these powerful numbers, together with a fine acoustic version of Chesney's biggest previous hit, "When I Close My Eyes," that make this album stand out from the pack.