No Surprises in Welcome to the Fishbowl
- Thursday, June 28, 2012
Artist: Kenny Chesney
Title: Welcome to the Fishbowl
Label: Blue Chair Records/Columbia Records
There are no big surprises on Kenny Chesney's thirteenth studio album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, and that's likely to be just fine with his enthusiastic fan base. Over the years the vocally unassuming singer has found a sweet spot cranking out a mix of party country rock anthems, emotional ballads, and beach bum jams. And would you look at that . . . he's done it again.
The good times are in full effect on concert-friendly first single "Feel Like a Rock Star," a duet with Tim McGraw that fits right in with their current summer tour together. It's a lyrically predictable ode to cutting loose on the weekend that runs through a laundry list of potentially obnoxious activities—whatever makes you feel like a rock star.
In line with the best musical hooks of renegade acts like ZZ Top and Toby Keith, the title track takes a clever look at how social media puts everyone—not just headliners like Kenny—at the world's fingertips. Everybody's business is everybody's business, and it's big business now.
Ballads give Fishbowl the most depth this time around. Chesney doesn't write a lot of his material, but he sure knows how to pick a song and make it his own. "Come Over" is a yearning, burning mid-tempo rocker with crossover appeal. "While He Still Knows Who I Am" is classic slow-cooked country, a tearjerker about telling dad what he means to you before he's overtaken by dementia. And "Sing ‘em Good My Friend" provides another well-done, have-a-good-cry moment.
"To Get to You (55th and 3rd)," which Kenny did co-write, is impressively vulnerable (love's become a frightening thing to do) and shows that Chesney has a good strong voice when he really needs something beyond the laid back vibe that is his calling card.
The most fun to be had is with "Time Flies," a sand-between-your-toes number in full Jimmy Buffett effect that takes you to a place where you can get your blues tanned. But watch out for a subtle recreational drug reference toward the end.
One more smart move: Welcome to the Fishbowl closes with a live version of "You and Tequila," his smash duet with Grace Potter, who also sings backup on "El Cerrito Place."
History won't likely define this record as a super huge splash in his catalog, but Kenny Chesney knows his strengths, and he arranges them very nicely here.
*This Article First Published 6/28/2012
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