Country's Biggest Superstar is... a Parrothead?

Jan 25, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:New Chesney material. Some real good songs. A great look into his soul.

Cons:A one-note album. If you don't like the tropics, you won't like this.

The Bottom Line: An ode to the sun, the sand, alcohol, and a lack of stress. This is the CD that I'll be listening to for the next few weeks. Solid album.

On each of Kenny Chesney's past few albums, he has had 2 or 3 songs glorifying life in the Caribbean (including the title tracks of each of his last two albums, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" and "When the Sun Goes Down"). On Be As You Are, that is every song.

You could consider this a concept album. I consider it an album Chesney did for himself and is letting us listen to. In the CD booklet, he even says, "Thanks to everyone who is involved in my career for understanding that this album was something I needed to do." Listening to When the Sun Goes Down, you got an intense look into Chesney's life and thoughts (find my review here ---> However, this new album is his most personal yet.

That isn't to say it's his best album to date. But here, we find out that after everything he has sung and written about, he feels most passionate about the tropics, where he spends his time between touring and recording. He wrote or co-wrote every song on this album. And you can tell - a lot of the songs sound alike. Some of the songs are sure to be great singles, if he decides to release them. Let's talk about those...

"Old Blue Chair," which appears on When the Sun Goes Down, has already been released. It appears on this album twice, once in the regular version and once as an "ocean mix," which basically just means you can hear the sound of waves in the background. This is a real good song. One change on "OBC" from Sun... to this album is the fact that the line "That chair was my bed one New Year's Night / when I passed out from too much Malibu and diet" has been changed. It is now "too much Cruzan and diet." Cruzan rum sponsored Kenny's high-grossing Guitars, Tiki Bars, and a Whole Lotta Love tour in 2004. Speaking of that...

"Guitars and Tiki Bars" is another solid song on Be As You Are. It is told from the viewpoint of one of Kenny's "characters." This character is, like many of the others, a man in the rat race looking to the Islands (none in particular) to relieve his stress.

The title track, "Be As You Are," is probably the best song on the album. However, if songs from here are released, the most popular track will be "Key Lime Pie."

"Key Lime Pie" is going to bring up the obvious references to Jimmy Buffet. And hey, they aren't so far off. While Buffet is going the way of country music (he sings, "Am I country, pop, or rock 'n' roll? Some say they are related... It's simply complicated"), Chesney seems to be singing about rum and seafood and sand and leaving stress and ambition behind, atleast on this album.

"Soul of a Sailor" was co-written by Chesney and Scotty Emerick. If that name sounds familiar to country fans, it's because he is Toby Keith's writing partner when they are on the road. This song is about, well, the soul of a sailor and how the only time he feels alive is when he's on a boat, drifting in the wind. This can be considered an auto-biographical song. In the booklet notes, Kenny says that he likes to sit for days at a time in his boat and just drift where the waves take him.

Some other songs on here are about leaving where your from and migrating south for a little. "Boston" and "Sherry's Living in Paradise" are both about a girl who moves down to the Islands and gets jobs there (one in a shop, one bartending). See, a lot of songs on this album sound alike and have the same meaning. That doesn't make them bad songs on their own, though.

This is a quality album, although talking to some other Chesney fans, they weren't impressed. They want more of the fast songs that he is known for. I appreciate this album because I know it's very personal to him and for him and he wanted his fans to know how he feels and that he's thankful to us for giving him the opportunity to do what he does. I might not feel how he does, but everyone knows what it's like to just want to drop everything and leave the world behind for a few days. This album isn't going to sell well, and I think he knows that. He's not going for commercial success. But his diehard fans should pick this up, and so should those Parrotheads who like tropic-inspired songs like Jimmy Buffet sings. Leave the world behind for an hour.

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