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Kenny Chesney

The Road and the Radio – 2005 (BNA)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney is country's brightest star. The reigning CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year with a string of multiplatinum albums, Chesney's career has never been more successful. Contrast that with his personal life in 2005, which saw a high-profile marriage to Renee Zellweger and subsequent breakup all in the span of a few months. It's this Kenny Chesney who shows up on this album - the one whose head is still spinning and has a lot to figure out.

"Freedom" describes what this album's protagonist is searching for, and "Living in Fast Forward" explains why he hasn't found it - he's a "hillbilly rock star out of control." When life overwhelms him, he escapes down to Mexico where "forgettin's cheap" in "Tequila Loves Me," and he can "waste another day" in "Another Beer in Mexico." Or he might head for a bar and beg, "Somebody Take Me Home," in an electric Radney Foster song, one of the highlights. The title track, one of just two songs written by Chesney here and one of the best, summarizes the album's theme nicely: "Happiness is a destination that's hard to find/It may take some time." This album's melancholy feel is in stark contrast to Chesney's past wistful radio hits about the joys of youth - songs like "Keg in the Closet," "I Go Back," "Anything But Mine" and "Young." There's only one song here of that ilk - "Summertime," a catchy future radio hit that has Chesney singing about "two bare feet on the dashboard/Young love in an old Ford."

With a couple of exceptions, the songs are mediocre, the performances are fine, and the mood is bleak. Overall, the album is okay, but we've come to expect more than that from Chesney. Here's hoping he can find some happiness in his life so that his next album can deliver more joy to his listeners.