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Kenny Chesney

Here and Now – 2020 (Warner)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Kenny Chesney

For many years now, Kenny Chesney has been the number one yacht country artist; one never spotted far from an ocean or without an adult beverage in his hand. However, this album's title track expresses a much deeper perspective on life. "I must've sat on a dozen islands/Watched the sun sink into the sea." Previously, island living was the reason for life. Now, life's purpose is described as much more internal than external. Call it trading that pirate flag for a little more mindfulness.

One called "Everyone She Knows" continues the maturity theme by describing a woman "stuck between seventeen/And everyone she knows." It's a daringly fascinating move for Chesney to walk a mile in this conflicted woman's shoes. This isn't his world. It may not even his audience's world. Its lyric describes many down sides to our youth obsessed culture. "And she thinks, "Ain't got it all, but I got it alright,"" she tells herself, "And for a minute she's glad she ain't like/Everyone she knows." After that minute's up, though, she wonders again about all this single girl might be missing out on.

Chesney stealthily avoids cliched romantic stories with these songs. The character in "Someone to Fix" wants to be an easygoing partner, but wonders aloud, "How'd you get tangled up in the careless wreck I am?" These songs find Chesney realizing warm breezes and cool drinks don't make everything okay. Vacations are wonderful escapes, but real life off the island is oftentimes complicated.

After so much lyrical messiness, though, Chesney returns to the beach life for "Beautiful World," and describes the ultimate free spirited character with "Guys Named Captain." Many of the captains name-dropped in the latter, however, are fictitious. Yes, we'd love to find a real-life fantasy island, but that's a world only available in TV reruns now. The here and now will likely never be picture perfect, but it's all we've got. Kenny Chesney is here to help us all make the best of what we've got.