The country star, on his 17 th album since 1994, has a new direction and strong things to say about the style our digital culture has changed human interaction
Like any big music starring, Kenny Chesney is used to people reaching out to shake his hand from the front rows of his stadium reveals. But he hasnt forgotten the woman in New Jersey last summertime who clasped her hands in his, depicted him close, but never looked at him once. She was looking at her telephone, he recollects. She was so lost in the noise of it all, she missed the human connect. It was sad.
A risk of success is the cheapening of the message, and sometimes the messenger. Which is why on Cosmic Hallelujah, his 17 th album, Chesney moves another step closer to transforming his role as one of mainstream countrys most enduring superstars to an artist freshly invested in both challenging himself and pushing his audience his fans are known as the No Shoes Nation even if they are fine with the route things are. Chesney is 48 and while the world has certainly changed since 1999, where reference is released She Thinks My Tractors Sexy, hes changed along with it.
Theres more to my life than escapism, he says. I love that part of my life, but it is more important now to talk about other things. Its where I am at right now.
Cosmic Hallelujah is the album destined to grow his audience, although with 28 No 1 records on the country chart, he hasnt precisely underserved them. But Americana fans would find much to admire here through ballads like Jesus and Elvis, a bittersweet story told with traditional country elements and featuring his finest singing in years. And while anthems like Bucket and Bar at the Objective of the World are insured gravy for his blockbuster live presents, Hallelujah also stimulates space for more thoughtful material that reflect both the anxiety of the times and the determination to move through it.
The centerpiece is Noise, the albums first single, which detonation through the digital overload of daily life. The lyrics appeared like a inundate and, with songwriters Ross Copperman, Shane McAnally and Jon Nite, Chesney crafted a dramatic treatise on the potential we are becoming numb to intimacy. Unlike other anthems that tackle the same subject, Noise is less ripped from the headlines and more from his own personal diary. I felt it was affecting my creativity and my personal relationships, he tells of the onslaught of 24/7 connectivity. I felt I was texting I love you instead of telling people I loved them.
Unplugging now translates to leaving the cellphone off the table during dinners. But Chesney has the unique view of watching just how immersed people have become in removing themselves from the present moment when he seems out from the stage of a football stadium and insures 50,000 people staring back at him through their screens.
Its very frustrating, any entertainer will tell you they dislike it, he tells. Especially for me I want to look at everybody straight-out in the eye and make them feel something and its really hard to do that if theyre not looking at you but theyre looking at their telephone. Theyre missing the connection and taking fragments home with them. Its like looking at a bookshelf of volumes but you dont read any of them, you simply read a little bit of each.
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