Kenny Chesney: 'Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates' – Album Review
Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates. That title says a lot about Kenny Chesney's latest release – a release that Kenny says opened him up as a person more than any other album that he has recorded. The album is deep and even reflective, despite none of the songs being penned by Kenny himself. The songs on this album seem to have been written for him and about the point of his life that he is in. It is hard to put into words just how good this album really is.
'Poets and Pirates' is not what many expected from Kenny. Known for his carefree songs about living
life and having fun, this album is loaded with meaningful songs that show Kenny's continued growth – not only as an artist but as a person as well. Dwight Yoakam's Wild Ride and the fun Got A Little Crazy Last Night give fans the type of songs they've come to love from Kenny – songs that they can dance to while singing along. However, Kenny dives deep from there.
Shiftwork is a duet with one of Kenny's heroes – George Strait. The song's lyrics ring true and many working-class American's will identify with them. The song is a tribute to those doing the 'shift work' everywhere and the catchy chorus will stay stuck in the listener’s head.
Never Wanted Nothing More was the the first single from the album and it spent five weeks at number one. It kicks off the album and discusses first times in life when one thing – that first car, first kiss, or finding God – is the one thing you want more than anything else. It is followed up by the current single, Don't Blink. Stop whatever it is you are doing for just a few minutes and listen – really listen to the lyrics of this song. It will hit home for many of us who live in this fast-paced and often crazy world.
While listening to Wife and Kids, I was moved to tears. Kenny sings about being grateful for the things he has in life – how he has more then he ever imagined and yet, he goes home alone. The song not only gives the listener a glimpse of the idea that Kenny seems to be looking towards the family life he has given up during his years on the road, but it also tells the listener that just because things look great from the outside, that's not always the case. Kenny puts himself out there on this song and as he sings it, he comes across as somewhat vulnerable.
Better As A Memory is a song that Kenny says he has written out in letters many times. The song tells a woman that he is better as a memory and that she is better off without him. Scare Me looks at how a woman's love scares Kenny. He's not afraid of being lonely... he's afraid of his feelings for her. Just Not Today is a David Lee Murphy-penned song that will sound great on stage. It's about having to grow up someday, but also about having fun while you still can – before things that can't be controlled like love and growing old begin to take you over. In many ways, it's an ode to Kenny's life on the road. One of these days, he'll have to 'grow up' – just not today.
A first in country music, Dancin' for the Groceries is a song about a single mother stripping to pay the bills. The lyrics read: In sequins and in laces, she's dancin' for the braces so her kids will have a perfect smile someday. This single mother is doing the best she can in the only way she knows how. The song also has another meaning – don't judge a person by who they are or how they appear. There just may be more to the story.
The CD ends with Demons, a ballad about being attracted to all things that are bad such as women, whiskey, and weed. It is perhaps the song that digs into the very depths of Kenny Chesney with its serious lyrics about knowing that something is bad for you, but giving in to it anyway. It's a bit of a self-examination for Kenny.
Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates is deep. It is reflective. It is serious with a little fun injected here and there. Kenny has grown as an artist and continues to get better. Fans are already loving this album and they should. It is his best work yet.