Kenny Chesney

Lucky Old Sun

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Kenny Chesney may title his 12th album after the pop standard that he sings here with Willie Nelson, but don't mistake Lucky Old Sun for his Stardust. Chesney is tipping his hat not to the Great American Songbook but the great ball in the sky, the one that shines on beaches from coast to coast, with the Gulf of Mexico being a particular favorite in his book. Lucky Old Sun is designed to be a soundtrack to laid-back afternoons on warm sand, which by now is very familiar territory for Chesney in his personal and professional life. As former tourmate George Strait has proven throughout his career, familiarity can be comforting and fruitful, but Chesney forgoes subtle pleasures for mere complacency, delivering no more than what his audience expects. Coming from a musician who quietly subverted country rules as he was climbing the charts, this slow shrug is distressing, but more than that, it's dull. Since Chesney swaps Buffett's boozy goofball schtick for gentle strumming, this isn't music for a party, it's music that laps softly against the shore. To be sure, there's some pleasure to be had here, but it's all about appreciating the album as pure texture: it's merely sunbleached mood music. And while that's appealing as far as it goes, Chesney could do something a lot more interesting in the sun besides lazing around.

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