By Emily Wagner
If this worldwide pandemic has done anything good, it’s given me ample time to learn all the words to Kenny Chesney’s latest album, before I see him in concert. And at this rate, I should have the words down by next week, because this album is amazing and I can’t stop listening to it.
Kenny Chesney’s 18th (!) album Here and Now eludes happiness, positive thinking, and because it’s Kenny Chesney, a bit of island magic sprinkled throughout the songs.
One of my favorite things about this album is the conscious choice in how the album starts and ends. The upbeat, fun, soon to be concert staples of “We Do” and the title track “Here and Now” are bookended beautifully by the tempered, near acoustic songs of “Beautiful World” and “Guys Name Captained.”
And trust me there is plenty to love in between these songs as well.
“Happy Does” is one of those songs that makes the album, and without it, something is missing. Although not written by Kenny, it has that distinct Kenny sound to it: that carefree, relaxed, enjoy life anyway you can sentiment that Kenny not only sings about, but actually lives by.
Another favorite is “Knowing You” which has gotten a lot of positive response from fans and critics. Some describe this as ‘waltzy.’ What that means, I truly don’t know. It’s hard to pinpoint what makes this song sound so classic country. It reminds me of Chesney’s “The Woman With You” or even “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. The song is clean and uncomplicated, with simple and intuitive lyrics. Basically, I’m hoping my confusing explanation of this song frustrates you enough to go and take a listen for yourself. And then you’ll understand what I mean. Or you won’t.
Kenny has always been such a strong storyteller in his songs, no matter who the narrator of the song is. That is reflected in “Everyone She Knows” a beautifully crafted song by industry heavyweights of Ross Copperman, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osbourne. It’s amazing how three men wrote this song about a woman being stuck at a stage in her life of not wanting what her friends have, the house, the husband, the kids, but also knowing she’s not in the age of a summer fling. So not only do the songwriters get it so right, but Kenny sings it with such understanding and relatability, that it doesn’t make the song come off as judgmental or corny. It comes off as a song that should win awards down the road.
Ed Sheeran is the other notable songwriter on this album, which may come as a surprise. Chesney had been writing what would become “Tip Of My Tongue” and along with Copperman, Ed Sheeran helped to fine-tune and find an ending for the song.
As if the writing on this album wasn’t good enough, it shines though on two notable songs, “Someone To Fix” and “You Don’t Get To.” The latter cements the old adage “you always want what you can’t have,” but the song digs deeper into the ramifications of playing with someone’s heart and emotions. “Someone to Fix” is such a unique song with a simple message of gratitude towards your significant other for staying with and loving the mess of a person you believe yourself to be.
The truth is, I could write extensively with how much I love this new album by Kenny Chesney, but the beautiful thing about Kenny’s music is that each song can hit differently to each listener. So listen to it! Listen to it in the album order, or don’t. Regardless you will spend 50 minutes listening to 12 amazing tracks from an artist who possibly is just getting better with time.