Kenny Chesney can’t presumably have imagined the world wherein we’d be listening to “Right here and Now.” The nation famous person’s 19th studio album was imagined to arrive two weeks right into a stadium-and-amphitheater “Chillaxification Tour 2020” that may have saved car parking zone events going properly into school soccer season.
With its call-and-response refrain, opening observe “We Do” clearly was designed for Chesney followers — a concertgoing group rivaled maybe solely by Parrotheads and Deadheads — to shout 70,000 sturdy throughout stops alongside the now postponed tour. As a substitute, No Sneakers Nation finds itself scattered to the 4 corners of the nation with little purpose to placed on pants, a lot much less sneakers, except they’re going out to verify the mail.
However right here’s the factor: While you develop a useful, totally realized view of the world, you discover you construct it sturdy sufficient to climate sudden, radical shifts of circumstance. Chesney’s been perfecting his work-hard-relax-harder ethos for a great 27 years now; because of this, “Right here and Now” is a unusually satisfying album for this specific second in time.
With a guitar intro that remembers the Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove,” the bracing title observe marries Chesney’s classic-rock-infused nation together with his in-the-moment philosophy: “Ain’t no higher place, ain’t no higher time than right here and now,” he sings. As a substitute of ringing hole, it is likely to be the proper motivational tune for quarantine days — a high-energy quantity that doesn’t essentially attempt to get you to do something, besides perhaps to profit from doing nothing.
Now 52, Chesney has developed a wonderful sense of peace and contentment that permeates “Right here and Now,” even when he’s singing about characters who haven’t managed to do the identical. “You Don’t Get To,” for example, represents a step of progress from his 2011 hit “You and Tequila.” “Possibly I’m not the identical me, however you’re the identical you,” he sings with agency depth to a love who as soon as might have run like poison in his blood, exhibiting a confidence to distance himself he won’t all the time have had. “Somebody to Repair” finds a large number of a person marveling on the forces that created an entirely surprising relationship: “How’d you get all twisted up within the careless wreck I’m?” he wonders. The “Marilyn in blue denims with a contact of Jackie O” in “Everybody She Is aware of” finds herself in a liminal house between her more and more domesticated peer group and a bar scene she’s fairly positive she’s outgrown. It’s like a extra wistful, self-aware model of In opposition to Me!’s “Thrash Unreal,” besides Chesney empathizes with the girl reasonably than judging her.
“Everybody She Is aware of” and the sensual Ed Sheeran co-write “Tip of My Tongue” have been each co-produced by co-writer Ross Copperman — probably the most tracks Chesney’s accomplished on a studio album with out producer Buddy Cannon for the reason that two started working collectively on 1996’s “Me and You.” These tracks present a nuanced replace to Chesney’s sound, broadening a palette bounded on the other finish by “Realizing You,” a nostalgic nation waltz.
As with every Chesney album, there’s loads of nostalgia, significantly in “Heartbreakers,” an anthem-rock rumination on the last word fates of three dream-chasing renegades who nonetheless fireplace his creativeness. However “Right here and Now” presents a lot extra, discovering its happiness in moments like “a sluggish dance in a rainstorm and a kiss from who you like,” as Chesney sings within the lilting “Blissful Does.”
An album crammed with pleasures, “Right here and Now” finds its moments of perfection in its two last songs, “Lovely World” and “Guys Named Captain.” The primary is a celebration of life which may have develop into a sing-along spotlight of the deliberate summer time reveals, however a line like “Generally you simply gotta let it take you the place the rollercoaster trip meets the Tilt-A-Whirl” now takes on an emotional resonance Chesney couldn’t have foreseen when he recorded the tune. And James Slater’s “Guys Named Captain,” written for his father, is just one of many most interesting moments of Chesney’s prolonged profession, a comforting character sketch with a bittersweet twist in its last traces.
Both would have made a satisfying album nearer, however they’re stronger collectively, juxtaposed on the finish of “Right here and Now.” The album could have been imagined as a communal bonding expertise for No Sneakers Nation, however within the extra solitary moments of this right here and now, there’s nonetheless a life to be well-lived inside its songs.
“Right here and Now”
Warner Music Nashville