When an artist gets somewhere near their seventeenth studio album you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s likely to be just ‘more of the same’ and the artist would perhaps be forgiven for not really putting their full heart into the record. With Cosmic Hallelujah Kenny Chesney is hitting album number seventeen. Such is the beauty of country music and the appeal of the songwriters involved that I’d not really listened to Chesney until I heard Old Dominion play the song that members Matt Ramsey and Brad Tursi had written and Chesney released on his last record The Big Revival in Save It For A Rainy Day. This album has been a little while coming with it originally penned for a July release under the title Some Town Somewhere before being shelved until November and released under the title Cosmic Hallelujah. Kenny was quote as saying “Sure, it would be easier to just leave everything on schedule but when you have something you know is great, and it captures the best part of being alive, why wouldn’t you slow down enough to make it happen in the moment?”
The album kicks of with Trip Around The Sun which is a typically laid back and upbeat Chesney song. Lyrically the song is about just sitting back and enjoying life as well as coming to terms with the fact that there is simply nothing that we can do about certain things. “They say the sea is rising and that’s alright with me ‘cos there ain’t place than on the sea I’d rather be” sets the tone for the song. It’s a really uplifting song to listen if you’re ever going through some hard times and having trouble accepting it. “It’s a hang on kind of ride, we’re spinning through space and time, rocking this big old rock just trying to have some fun” is typical of Chesney and his No Shoes Nation approach to life.
Next up we move from the laid back vibe to a more rocky sound in All The Pretty Girls. This is the type of song that would sound awesome live with it’s big power chords and sing-a-long chorus. It’s another good vibes song with typically upbeat lyrics about having a good time. This type of song really does fit with the sound of a man who has become a serial stadium botherer on his tours! There’s a nifty little guitar solo in there too!
Next up is a song featuring a rather surprising but brilliant choice of guest in the form of P!nk (that’s ‘Pink’ for those who don’t agree with using punctuation in the middle of a word). Setting The World On Fire is another big sounding song with a great feel-good vibe. P!nk’s big powerful vocals lead into a huge chorus. She sings “we were up all night and we were feeling so good, yeah, we got a little higher than we probably should, we were in a hotel singing in the hallway lights, we were striking the matches right down to the ashes, setting the world on fire”. It’s a really great tune and says a lot about the versatility of both Chesney and P!nk in that their voices sound made for each other. Great tune.
The next song was the first single from the album in Noise. This song is a little different to the usual laidback ‘beachy’ vibes that Chesney has in his songs – not that this is a bad thing. It’s a song that is a statement on the world that we live in where people are hooked on television, money, social media and more and have very little time to hear anything else that is going on. It’s a really driving and powerful song where Chesney sings “This noise, yeah we scream, yeah we shout, yeah we don’t have a voice, in the streets, in the crowds, it ain’t nothing but noise”. It’s a great tune and guess who co-wrote it… Shane McAnally… you can never escape that guy!
Next up is one of my favourite songs on the record. It’s a real anthem for anyone who has ever suffered from depression or even just a hard time in life. Bucket is all about stopping yourself from worrying and enjoying life no matter what. I love the line “I took my bucket list, changed the B to an F, I gave my give a damn the finger so it got up and left, I quit worrying ‘bout peoples expectations and ordered up a six pack of chillaxification”. Now there’s a motto for life – I think I need one of these ‘fucket’ lists sometimes!
Bar At The End of The World is up next. This song goes back to the typical Chesney ocean themed feel good songs. There’s not much to say about it apart from it’ll be a live hit especially when people are enjoying a few beers in the sun.
Track seven is the song that was initially going to be the title of the album in Some Town Somewhere. This is one of my favourites on the record. Again, it’s a really feel good tune this time about small town life. It’s impossible to feel down listening to this song and tapping your foot. “We’re all born to be free, we’re all born to be great, we’re all looking for the Hollywood sign and trying to find the interstate, we’re all grown from the same old roots, we’re all kicking in the same old boots” is very American but relatable to anyone who has grown up in a small town with big dreams.
Next up is a song where the tone and tempo finally come down a little in Rich and Miserable. I’m not sure whether it’s intentional but it serves as the perfect follow up to Some Town Somewhere. It’s almost like a response saying that you might have big dreams but it’s not all roses when you get there. It’s a nice change of pace on the album and comes at a good time.
Things stay at a slower pace for the acoustic based Jesus and Elvis. This song is another small town story and doesn’t grab me massively but is again a nice change of pace on the record.
The penultimate song on the record is Winnebago, which is a song that takes us right back to the feel good summery feel from earlier in the record. It’s a jaunty little tune about jumping in the motorhome (RV if you’re reading this in America!) and heading off to have a good time.
The final song on the album sounds like it’s quite possibly very autobiographical in the form of Coach. It’s a song looking back at an old sports coach from Chesney’s childhood and thanking him for the effect that he had on his life as well as remembering the good times. It’s a big and emotional song and one of only two (the other being Noise) that Chesney co-wrote on the album. It’s a great album close.
- Trip Around The Sun
- All The Pretty Girls
- Setting The World On Fire Feat. P!nk
- Bar at The End of The World
- Some Town Somewhere
- Rich and Miserable
- Jesus and Elvis
All in all Cosmic Hallelujah is an album that I really enjoyed. I’m just at the beginning of discovering Kenny Chesney so I’m not too familiar with his entire back catalogue but, from listening to this and The Big Revival, it seems that his positive outlook on life really comes through in his music. This is an album that really focuses on making the most of life, grabbing opportunities and being happy which is something that country music does best. The interesting thing about Chesney is that he is still clearly bringing a lot of passion to the project despite making so many releases. The opposite was something that I found to be the case with Toby Keith and it really didn’t do anything for me. There’s definitely a lot of substance to this record but it’s mostly put forward in a positive way. My only regret with this album is that it was released late in the year when it sounds like the perfect summer album.
All The Pretty Girls, Setting The World On Fire, Bucket, Some Town Somewhere
Six Shooter Rating
8 out of 10