Commentary

July 27, 2012

In stores

Fly Over: ‘Welcome to the Fishbowl’

Not terrible, not memorable

By Capt. Tristan Hinderliter

I’m sorry to say that “Welcome to the Fishbowl,” Kenny Chesney’s 15th studio album released June 19, doesn’t add any new classics to the Chesney canon and comes as a bit of a disappointment after several really great albums over the past decade.

Chesney is credited as co-writer on three of the 12 tracks, which is fairly typical, as he does not write most of the music he records.

This is not a terrible album, it’s just not memorable. Chesney doesn’t broach any new territory here. On the song’s title track (which was co-written by Chesney), he laments the lost privacy that accompanies fame: “Everybody’s business is everybody’s business, and that’s big business now / We’re all in here together and we can’t get out / Welcome to the fishbowl.”

The best tracks are the upbeat, fun “Feel Like a Rock Star,” with Tim McGraw, and “El Cerrito Place,” which was written by singer-songwriter Keith Gattis. In the latter song, Chesney searches for his lost lover’s footprints in the sand: “Did you hear the ocean singing, baby did you sing along? While you danced out in the water to some old forgotten song.”

“Come Over,” which like “Rock Star” was also released as a single, is a solid, standard Chesney song, as is “Always Gonna Be You.” Neither, however, have the poignant emotional resonance of tracks like “I’m Alive” or “Way Down Here,” from his 2008 album “Lucky Old Sun.”

Of course it wouldn’t be a Kenny Chesney album without a song about being from a small town. Here, he goes anthropomorphic with “I’m a Small Town,” in which we hear about trains, bikes, first kisses and last home runs. This is not to be confused with “In a Small Town” or “Where I Come From,” which were both better songs he has recorded about small towns.

Over the past few years Chesney has carried the tiki torch for Jimmy Buffet in extolling the virtues of boats, beaches and drinking rum. He delivers here with “Time Flies,” a fun little song, but it’s no “Beer in Mexico,” much less “Margaritaville.”

Chesney also continues his tradition of including songs to bum out the listener. These include “Sing ‘Em Good My Friend,” about an old man whose wife of many years is hooked up to a machine waiting to die. It’s a beautiful song with a really nice hook, but not a summer song to rock out to. Also depressing is “While He Still Knows Who I Am,” about a dying father suffering from Alzheimer’s or some type of dementia (insert Debbie Downer sound drop here).

The album concludes with an unnecessary live version of “You and Tequila,” the hauntingly beautiful duet with Grace Potter and the best song from his last album, “Hemingway’s Whiskey.” Recorded live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, it’s a good rendition (except for the audience sing along at the end), but it felt like it was included just to capitalize on the success of the previous album.

All in all, the album features a few nice songs, but this is far from Kenny Chesney’s best work.



About the Author

Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
Tristan Hinderliter is a full-time Public Affairs Officer and part-time pop culture critic. When he's not listening to the Adam Carolla Podcast, he's usually watching movies. His favorite directors include David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Alexander Payne.


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