Album Review: Kenny Chesney’s ‘Cosmic Hallelujah’
The best things in life are worth the wait and Kenny Chesney proves this old adage true with the release of his new album Cosmic Hallelujah. While the record was originally scheduled for release in July under the name Some Town Somewhere, Chesney’s most recent No. 1 song “Setting the World On Fire” featuring P!nk breathed new life into the project and as a result, the eight-time Entertainer of the Year winner decided on a new album title and direction.
“These songs are all about taking ‘The Big Revival’ to the next level; that level is Cosmic Hallelujah,” he said in a press release announcing the new release date. “After all of it, the Cosmic Hallelujah unfolds around your best efforts. It’s not the big things, which are awesome, but the tiny moments where you just are that matter. They’re the things that make you feel so alive and on fire.”
Chesney’s goal within the album’s 11 tracks was to share feel good music based on a human emotion instead of making a social statement. Additionally, he hopes the music reminds his No Shoes Nation that the current moment should be embraced. This can be seen on his previous two singles “Setting the World On Fire,” where a couple lives in the moment during a beachside vacation, and even “Noise,” which discusses the distractions in today’s society while urging us all to slow down and block out the often debilitating sounds.
Opening track “Trip Around the Sun” accomplishes this goal with hand clapped rhythms and banjo accompaniment as Chesney sings of not over thinking or over analyzing things. Instead, he’s relaxing and enjoying a beer with friends and simply hanging onto life’s crazy ride.
“We’re all swimming in a fishbowl, just floating through the sky/ Pulled along by gravity, and nobody knows why/ So it’s a cosmic hallelujah that we’re sitting here right now,” he sings.
“All the Pretty Girls” follows suit and continues the fun, party vibe that fans know and love from Chesney. A song easy to envision being played at one of his stadium gigs, the shimmering guitar parts and Chesney’s familiar, deep vocals impress on the nostalgic track looking back on young college life.
Meanwhile, the hilarious “Bucket” penned by Brett James and Craig Wiseman details a man who decided to stop worrying about people’s expectations by substituting the “b” for an “f” in bucket list and thus suddenly finds himself living a blissful life.
“If you’re a little depressed, if you’re a little bit lost / baby write it all down and then blow it all off / we’re all a letter away from perpetual bliss / put an F on the B of your bucket list”
Songs like the laidback “Bar At the End of the World,” ode to road tripping “Winnebago,” and the feel good “Some Town Somewhere” are classic Chesney with vivid storytelling and sing along choruses. “We’re all just livin’ for quittin’ time / take our turn on the carnival ride,” he sings on the latter.
Where the foot-tapping “Some Town Somewhere” praises our similarities as “we’re all grown from the same old roots,” next track “Rich and Miserable” takes a slightly darker turn explaining our often greedy and unsatisfied culture.
“We climb the ladder but the ladder just grows . . . enough is never enough / American dream never wakes up / too much is never too much, we won’t be happy till we’re rich and miserable,” he sings.
While the track embodies obvious social commentary, the slick beats and sexy vocals from Chesney never come across as preachy and instead listeners find themselves nodding along to the R&B infused song. Later, fans are reminded of Chesney’s prowess to sing story songs with “Jesus and Elvis.” Written by Americana Award winner Hayes Carll, CMA Song of the Year winner Matraca Berg and Oscar nominee Allison Moorer, the stripped down “Jesus and Elvis” is country songwriting at its finest as the track pays tribute to Texas bar LaLa’s Little Nugget. An establishment with a neon cross and string of Christmas lights, the song transports the listener to the location with Chesney as he tells the story behind the owner.
Throughout Chesney’s Cosmic Hallelujah one theme prevails: living in the moment. In a way, the songs selected seem to be convincing the road warrior that it’s time to slow down the pace. He is heeding his own advice too, as he’ll be taking a break from the road in 2017. While Chesney fans will have to travel to festivals to see their favorite singer next year, Cosmic Hallelujah is enough to hold them over. And, hopefully, his music will urge us all to slow down and live in the moment a little bit more.