NYCS First Impression: Kenny Chesney ‘Here and Now’
Recorded and scheduled for release prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenny Chesney’s Here and Now may just be the serendipitous album we can all use during these trying times. Marking his second release with Warner Music Nashville, Chesney’s new album is a collection of much-needed levity and optimism, executed like only Chesney can.
While Chesney co-produced the album with Buddy Cannon, who he previously joined forces with on 2018’s Songs for the Saints, Here and Now is a markedly different release. When speaking about the album in a statement, the country superstar revealed his goal for the album. “You know, it’s going to have a high fun factor,” he said. “People work hard, and need music that makes them smile, that kicks them into a happy place. There are also songs here that look at very specific people, that tell one person’s story, but it could be any of us. That’s the mark of a good song: let one person’s specific life say so much about a lot of people’s lives.”
The album opens with an exceptional one-two punch that can easily be envisioned as used to open a Chesney live show. The first track is the anthemic “We Do,” which is purely Chesney at his finest, celebrating the life of both a musician and a music fan. “Not really sure who’s lifting up who,” he sings here, encompassing the unique connection between performer, crew, and fans. Instantly, this song has improved our mood and made us excited for the return of live music.
The album’s title track continues the theme of the album, as does the later track, “Beautiful World,” both which celebrate the “here and now” of our “big ol’ beautiful world.” While the former is a carpe diem anthem about living in the moment and enjoying life, the latter celebrates our smallness in such a giant world. Both continue to offer a much-needed glimpse of optimism in light of everything else going on in the world.
While the album is full of levity, Chesney does tackle harder topics, and nowhere is that more well done than on the coming-of-age track, “Everyone She Knows.” Here, he sings of someone who’s caught in the delicate balance between being a girl and a woman, watching as the lives of those around her pass by. While her friends are getting married and having kids and buying houses, “She’s stuck between seventeen and everyone she knows.”
Lost love is on display too, as Chesney excels at mournful ballads with “Knowing You” and “You Don’t Get To.” On “Knowing,” he’s recalling that love he lost, but with a fondness, as he sings. “Knowing you, you’re still wild and free/ And knowing you/ You’re probably way over me…I’d do it all over/ ‘Cause damn it was good knowing you.”
Alternately, “You Don’t Get To” shows an angrier side of the usually breezy singer-songwriter, as he argues all the things that his ex isn’t entitled to. “You don’t get to kiss me and make it all better/ You don’t get to lay it all out in a letter/ Blame it on something, Break me like it’s nothing/ Just to love me back together.”
For Chesney, Here and Now shows a different side of the singer, as he’s embracing optimism and his fans in a whole new way. “When you’re this far into a career,” he says, “I think artists need to keep pushing themselves and the music without losing sight of who they are, or forgetting the people you make music for. No Shoes Nation is a very passionate place without borders; I get inspired every time I see and hear them. These are passionate people who work really hard. They make a difference in their community in all kinds of ways, giving back not so people think they’re good, but because that’s who they are and what they do. When they listen to music, they’re all in – and when they hear something they like, you can feel it in how they respond.”
While Chesney describes the songs on Here and Now as “Polaroids from the parking lots, back home, the islands, my friends’ lives,” there’s truly something magical in each and every track. “Every single one is someone I know, you know, or may even be – and right now, our friends are absolutely the most precious thing we have.”
Kenny Chesney – Here and Now tracklist:
1. “We Do”
2. “Here and Now”
3. “Everyone She Knows”
5. “Knowing You”
7. “Someone to Fix”
8. “Happy Does”
9. “Tip of My Tongue”
10. “You Don’t Get To”
11. “Beautiful World”
12. “Guys Named Captain”
1. We Do
2. Knowing You
3. Here and Now
Chesney has postponed the April and May dates of his Chillaxification Tour, but is still currently scheduled for an August 22 show at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. For more tour dates and to keep up with Chesney, visit his official website or follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Here and Now is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our “New Country Music” playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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