Oh, Kenny. You just always know how to cut right to the heart of things, don’t you?
After taking a year off from his hectic touring schedule to simply slow down a bit, enjoy life, travel, and record his newest album, Kenny Chesney has proven (once again) that he is the reigning King of Country Music.
At first listen, The Big Revival moves me. I mean, REALLY moves me. Visions of Baptist preachers, rattlesnakes, and drinking the Cool-Aid rocks-and-rolls us into a state of mind that’s akin to a musical reawakening. And to magic. And, I’ll just put it out there right now: Kenny sure brings the magic on this album from the first note he sings to the last chorus he croons.
This album feels fun and fluid. Genuine. And, it sounds like summer should sound – which is Kenny to a T. The Big Revival is a revival of the man himself. The Kenny Chesney music I first fell in love with as a sophomore in high school is back, but with a maturity that bridges all of the summers, lessons learned, and lost loves in between.
No longer care-free and 16yrs old with my feet on the dash-board catching a tan and singing along with my BFFs as we head to the beach, I close my eyes and the weight of adulthood and the years in between falls away. My own FloraBama isn’t anywhere near Kenny’s fave bar geographically – but emotionally, they’re the same place. The memories, the dollar bills and bras nailed to the walls…
And, I am one of those American Kids still bopping along to Little Pink Houses and remembering MTV on the RCA. Talk about a gritty snapshot of a generation in song.
Of all the tracks on this album, I have fallen head-over-heels for Wild Child – Kenny’s ode to women and girls who dance to their own beat, and live life on their own terms. Grace Potter joins him on the track – and the blending of their voices, the lyrics, and the melody make me melt into another place and time when and where the music in my ears is sweeter than anything I’ve ever tasted. In this song I see myself, my daughter, my nieces, and all of the men that love wild girls like us.
Beer Can Chicken, Drink it Up, Til It’s Gone, and Save It For A Rainy Day are fresh rides down memory lane. I can’t wait to welcome the summer sun with these blasting in the background – cold beer in hand, sunscreen all around, friends gathered, giant smiles and cannon-balls into a blue ocean. These songs are a rallying cry for every member of the #NoShoesNation.
Kenny closes this album with a biopic look back in If This Bus Could Talk. Always so good at making his fans feel loved, this song is his little slice of gorgeous selfishness. Hints of doubt, youth, football, Momma, and everything else that got him to where he is today are there to take in and digest. For an artist as private as Kenny, this song really offers a touching look into his life over the years. And while it may feel a little voyeuristic, I’m glad he closes out the album with 4 minutes of introspection.
Because, at the heart of The Big Revival, is a revival for all of us. A maturation of years, but a joy from having survived them all.
Well, done, Kenny.