Chesney surprises with ‘Life on a Rock’
“Life on a Rock”
(Blue Chair/Columbia Nashville)
Kenny Chesney opens his new album ``Life On A Rock‘’ with the hit ``Pirate Flag,‘’ a rowdy beach-bum anthem reminiscent of his many fun-in-the-sun party songs of the last dozen years.
While most of the rest of ``Life on a Rock‘’ references island life, instead of rocking out, the songs are about unplugging from the chaos of the daily grind and reflecting on quieter pleasures.
Writing four songs by himself, and co-writing four more, this is the East Tennessee singer‘s most personal album since 2005’s ``Be As You Are (Songs From A Blue Chair).‘’ There are light moments, as in the duet with Willie Nelson on ``Coconut Tree,‘’ but the focus is on off-beat, real-life characters (“Lindy‘’) and on taking a moment to count one‘s blessings (the title song).
It’s a bold move, considering that a new crop of country rockers are selling millions of albums modeled on Chesney‘s pounding arena rock sound. But, to his credit, Chesney follows his muse and offers up an album that exposes his weathered soul. The result is as appealing as it is surprising.
(AP)LL Cool J delivers eclectic 13th album
LL Cool J
LL Cool J knows how to play well with others.
On his 13th studio album, ``Authentic,’‘ he delivers an eclectic mix of songs with a variety of guest singers that elevate the material to a worthy listening experience. This is not a rap album, but more of a hip-pop/hip-rock one, hitting all the right notes from romantic to raucous to punk.
The 12-track record sees a roster of stars lend their voices, including Eddie Van Halen, Snoop Dogg, Travis Barker, Monica, Seal, Earth, Wind & Fire and Brad Paisley (not ``Accidental Racist,’‘ thankfully. Their other collaboration, ``Live for You,’‘ is a rock ballad that is enjoyable.)
From the sarcastically cinematic intro ``Bath Salt,’‘ to the delightfully cheesy lust song ``Between the Sheetz,’‘ to the vivacious, Charlie Wilson-assisted ``New Love,’‘ the rapper sounds fresh.
There’s nothing wrong with pandering when one tries to hang on to artistic relevance, especially when producing a balanced, intriguing album. Who knows, maybe that‘s the future of music and Cool James is still a pioneer.
(AP)Luminous new album from Phosphorescent
Matthew Houck’s quest for a few moments of simplicity has led to his most complex album yet, a lush take on easygoing country flavored with a light ocean breeze.
``Muchacho‘’ crystallized as Phosphorescent‘s only permanent member retreated to Mexico on a weeklong spur-of-the-moment trip to check out following a difficult period in his life. He returned to Brooklyn, N.Y., with the beating heart of his most accomplished album yet, full of sprawling arrangements with horns and keys and electronic adornments.
Yet Houck never loses his deft touch for the personal moment, like when he narrates a rough patch for the listener before warbling, ``I’ll fix myself up, come and be with you‘’ over a dreamy organ line on ``Muchacho‘s Tune.’‘ He heads in the opposite direction as he patiently layers on the textures in ``The Quotidian Beasts’‘ until he’s got something that soars right on past the seven-minute mark.
There are little wonders all over ``Muchacho,‘’ an album that hopefully will take Houck to a wider audience as popular musical tastes begin to turn his way.