Hemingway's Whiskey is the 14th studio album from Kenny Chesney. It's one of his strongest albums to date, topped by one of his best songs ever.
So let's start with it, shall we?
"You and Tequila"
"You and Tequila" is clearly the highlight of Hemingway's Whiskey. It's a bittersweet duet between Chesney and singer Grace Potter. Written by Matraca Berg and Deana Carter, the tune is destined to be one of country music's signature love songs.
Chesney laid-back delivery doesn't oversell the ballad, a strategy that also works well on the opener "Boys of Fall." It avoids the triteness of other songs dealing with comradery among men and, you know, football. Even the cheesy guitar solos at the end feel somehow earned -- the appropriate fireworks to cap off a tune destined to be on every ex-jock's playlist.
The nostalgia continues, minus the shoulder pads, on "Where I Grew Up." It's a fine song but suffers in comparison to Miranda Lambert's similarly themed "The House that Built Me."
Kenny Chesney is all about taking it easy. He learns to "Live a little, have some fun / Take some time, waste it on number one" on the free-spirited "Live a Little." Ditto for "Coastal," which features a lyrical laundry list of party supplies for deep-sea fishing: "Tank top, love handles / Tube socks, Jesus sandals / Cheap blender, ice buckets."
The imbibing continues on Chesney's good-enough rendition of "Hemingway's Whiskey," written and originally performed by Guy Clark. Also inebriated, but depressingly, is "Somewhere with You." There's one ray of light on this downer about a dead relationship: Chesney spitting out lines as fast as a steer auctioneer. Try not to notice that it's more than a little reminiscent of the work of Sarah McLachlan or Natalie Merchant.
Upping the Voltage
Chesney is at his most amped-up in "Reality," despite the fact that the song is about taking it easy. I'll let Chesney explain:
Reality, yeah, sometimes life ain't all
That it's cracked up to be
So let's take a chance
And live this fantasy.
It makes a strange pairing with "Round and Round," a strutting song that seems to be about trucks. But it's actually about being dissatisfied with people being dissatisfied about life: "Why we can't be satisfied I don't know," Chesney sings. Huh? It's grim out there! Didn't he listen to "Reality"? Anyway, you can at least all be thankful that the tune isn't a retread of Ratt's song of the same name.
Cleanse your palate with Chesney's traditional take on "Small Y'All" with George Jones, who originally recorded the song, written by legendary Nashville tunesmith Bobby Braddock.
Best Songs on 'Hemingway's Whiskey'
- "Boys of Fall"
- "Hemingway's Whiskey"
- "Live a Little"
Track List for 'Hemingway's Whiskey'
1. "The Boys of Fall"
2. "Live a Little"
4. "You and Tequila" (with Grace Potter)
5. "Seven Days"
6. "Small Y'all" (with George Jones)
7. "Where I Grew Up"
9. "Round and Round"
10. "Somewhere with You"
11. "Hemingway's Whiskey"
Release Date: September 10, 2010