By Lisa Kiser
I realize I’m playing catch up here, but I feel that anything that this “Big Star” throws out is worth careful (and generally enjoyable) scrutiny, so here goes. Lucky Old Sun follows the established Chesney vein of “coconut country” as one might say, spewing forth tracks that draw the picture of an overcast day on the beach – cool and calming, with just a hint of Sunny Tropic SPF 30 wafting in the breeze. I felt oddly surprised that I didn’t feel enticed to go forth and seek beer upon the album’s conclusion. The typical Chesney “let’s have a beer (or ten)” feel isn’t there. What’s replaced it is a bit slower, a bit more thoughtful and introspective.
This album could probably be sold as a medically sound way to lower a listener’s blood pressure. Even if you shut out the words, the signature smooth and tempered tone of his voice, almost like a gentle hum at times, flows forth, quietly calming and soothing the nerves of those listening. Some of the cameo appearances come off surprisingly well, sparking some increased depth and interest to the veteran’s newest compilation. One example is the eerily calm “I’m Alive,” which kicks off the album with Dave Matthews helping out. If you know Kenny from “When the Sun Goes Down” or “How Forever Feels” you might not think to put the two together, but it fit the song, and the album, perfectly. If any of you are fans of Matthews, you’ll probably love this album, because it carries that same low, haunting feel that captures attention not by bouncy tunes or catchy lyrics but rather by forcing attention by its quiet, calling upon the listener to perk up their ears.
The album’s other gems include “Boats,” a simple, soft, pure song that conveys a dreary afternoon overlooking the waves crashing ashore, contemplating life. “Key’s in the Conch Shell” comes off as typical Chesney, a playful beachy island rhythm. The sweet “Lucky Old Sun” pairs Chesney with Willie Nelson for a tune that has all of the timeless appeal of “What a Wonderful World,” and even has tinges of that song’s sound whittled within it. I’ve noticed that recently “Down the Road” has made its way to the radio, and rightfully so. It’s quality. Overall, I appreciate the fact that Chesney is versatile enough to swing back and forth from mellow tunes to upbeat ditties. I think this album would be a fine example of his talent with the more controlled, mellow, chill stuff. It’s very easy and relaxed, but kind of passive. Lucky Old Sun isn’t going to jump out and grab you, but if you should wander toward its shore, you’ll probably dig the grooves.