Kenny Chesney - Be As You Are
(Songs from an Old Blue Chair)
Album review by: Cheryl Harvey Hill
When Kenny Chesney reflects on life from "an old blue chair," it is akin to the most uplifting sermon you have ever heard shouted from a pulpit on a Sunday morning. This is an insightful philosophy delivered via soothing, mostly calming, music and a few strategically placed waves. The album does have its upbeat moments like on "Guitar and Tiki Bars," but even on this song, Chesney is still dispensing the same philosophy, only this time he conveys his homily via a brass section and some heavy emphasis on the drums. Since he wrote, or co-wrote, on all thirteen songs on this album, it is clear that the music, and albeit the viewpoint, comes from his heart.
At the beginning of "Somewhere in the Sun," if you listen closely, you will hear the ocean breaking on a beach (I definitely recognize that sound from my own memories of beaches in California and Hawaii.) The sound of waves breaking is used throughout the album; in fact, this is the last sound you hear if you let the album play all the way out. On most of the songs I found the waves added a germane ambiance to the music.
There are going to be those who question whether too much of a good thing is too much. I suppose you could be lulled to sleep by the fluid flow of nostalgia waves; even ones crashing on a beach somewhere. However, just as I was nodding off to a peaceful beach in my own memory, "Magic" slid in, unannounced, and headed me down a memory lane I had forsaken several years ago. All of a sudden I was paying attention again. This is one slick production. Chesney's voice sashays in, cradles your thoughts, and whisks you away to a real feel-good place where the mantra is provided by flexible piano keys, sensual saxophone and tantalizing tympani. Positively magical.
"Soul of a Sailor" is another one of my favorite songs on the album. It is the final cut before an encore of "Old Blue Chair (ocean mix)" and it definitely sums up the spirit of the whole album. I liked it. In fact, I liked the whole album. However, I love Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Hawaiian music too. Herein may lay the problem for others.
I, honestly, don't see this as a country music album BUT I still enjoyed it. I think this album was a cathartic exercise for Chesney. I think he recorded this album because he needed to. Or maybe he just wanted to. When you have reached the level of success where he resides; well, you can be truer to yourself and I think that Be as you Are is who he is. Do you know any other country music artist who looks quite natural in a tank top, cut off shorts and a cowboy hat? Of course not. When Chesney sings in "Wouldn't take much for me to up and run -- To another life 'Somewhere in the Sun'," I'm convinced.
I think this album is an ode to Chesney's own heart and soul. Even if you think that puka shells and cowboy hats are an anomaly, do yourself a favor and escape for a while with him; you won't regret the trip.
Kenny Chesney - Be As You Are CD track list:
1. Old Blue Chair
2. Be as You Are
3. Guitars and Tiki Bars
4. Island Boy
5. Somewhere in the Sun
7. Something Sexy About the Rain8. French Kissing Life
9. Key Lime Pie
10. Sherry's Living in Paradise
12. Soul of a Sailor
13. Old Blue Chair