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Kenny Chesney

Life on a Rock – 2013 (Blue Chair)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Kenny Chesney

Despite the carefree, cruise-line posture of most Kenny Chesney records, there's always a nagging suspicion that his party-time vibe is about as predictable as a plastic pink flamingo on a Palm Beach patio. Yet Chesney's career-long theme of girls, guitars, beer and beaches (not always in that order) - and the occasional piece of farm machinery - has yet to wear thin. And with summer fast approaching, that's okay.

Chesney's latest is something of a running journal of his tropical musings that is among his strongest work to date. With songwriting credits on eight cuts, it's an album seemingly destined to be as light as a summer shandy beer but is actually an engaging, at times meaty and tight 10-song collection.

His current hit Pirate Flag has the anthemic chops to be a live-show staple for years. The frequent rasta references grow a little stale and predictable, but adding The Wailers on the reggae-tinged Spread the Love is a nice touch. And Willie Nelson adds his vocals to the breezy Coconut Tree.

While it's unlikely that Chesney will ever stray far from the sandy trail that's led him to this point in his career, a collection of his ponderings and ruminations still offer a few clever and catchy surprises nonetheless.