Chesney serenades, swashbuckles in latest album

Fans have known Kenny Chesney as a poet and a pirate, and the country-music artist reveals both sides of himself on his new album, Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates released Tuesday.

Many listeners know Chesney’s albums and songs to have similar meanings and a similar sound, but this time around he has reached a new level. He has brought to the table songs for every walk of life. From a one-night stand to having a wife and kids and growing old with the person you love, Chesney has shown the kind of life he wishes to have someday.

The first single released and first song on the album, "Never Wanted Nothing More," shows what a country boy thinks about and how he grows into having the life he wants. From getting his first truck at 15 to finding the right woman, getting married and being saved in church, Chesney shows how someone’s life can go around full circle.

"Don’t Blink" and "Just Not Today" both describe someone who is stepping back to look at his life. In "Don’t Blink," the subject of the song has completed the circle of life without even knowing it, and in "Just Not Today" he has realized that life and growing up both have to begin sometime. Chesney’s vocals and the melodies give each of the songs depth.

A song that almost anyone can relate to is "Better As A Memory," which showcases Chesney’s vocal talents and his ability to take ballads to a whole other level. Chesney refers to the man in the song as a pirate, and that is just who he is. In this album, a pirate is not someone who sails and hunts for buried treasures of gold and silver, but a man who wanders around looking for his own personal treasure – be it love, freedom or just a life to live with no regrets.

George Strait partners with Chesney in the comical duet, "Shiftwork." The song shows that Chesney is able to hold his own against a country-music legend. "Shiftwork" goes into detail about something almost all of us experience: work. "7 to 3, 3 to 11, 11 to 7" describes typical work shifts that many go through; sometimes, though, you have to party in those same shifts, Chesney explains.

When was the last time you woke up in a house you have never been in next to someone you have never seen before? In "Got A Little Crazy Last Night," Chesney describes that kind of night. A night where one too many drinks and a pretty girl cause a guy to end up with a new tattoo, a one-night stand and a woman he just can’t remember.

Chesney brings a new light to exotic dancers, whom many would describe as women who have no self-respect, in "Dancin’ for the Groceries." The lady in the song dances to pay rent, credit card bills and the cost of her kids’ braces. She is dancing to give her kids the life she never had. She’s not doing it for fun, but to earn an honest living – like everyone else.

The two final tracks on the album, "Scare Me" and "Demons," go deeper than most songs you have probably heard from Chesney. His mellow tone and a piano accompaniment lend a softer sound to the album. Chesney goes back to his country roots and sings about how life has demons that individuals create and about the demons that follow them when they least suspect it.

Chesney has gone softer on Just Who I Am than he has in past albums. Typically, he offers a Caribbean sound with upbeat drums and an ocean feel in the background, but this time around you get an entirely different feel. He has slowed down and is looking at his music differently. His vocals are showcased on this album with a softer tone. He’s still the same Chesney – he just seems to have an older soul. Most will be surprised to know that he did not write any of the songs on this album. He chose every song based on his life and what others go through on a day-to-day basis.

In the "Thanks You’s" section of Chesney’s new album, he wrote, "There is a line in a song on this album that says, ‘all my friends are pirates. It’s just who I am.’ That is a true reality about my life." Kenny is a pirate. He is a wonderer and a free-spirited dreamer.

In the week of the 50 Cent and Kanye West battle, Chesney has broken through with a great album. His latest release is something special and different, and is worth a listen from fans of music even outside of the realm of country.

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