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Album Review

Kenny Chesney, 'Hemingway's Whiskey'

September 27, 2010

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Kenny Chesney’s new record is being touted as the result of the contemporary country titan shutting down his relentless touring schedule for a year, which allowed him the time to think about his music and where he wanted to take it. Where he’s taken it isn’t all that far from where he’s been since 2002’s “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems.’’ Chesney typically trades in two kinds of paradise: tropical and nostalgic. Both are represented here (the former, complete with steel drum accents, by “Coastal,’’ the latter by the small town high school football ode “The Boys of Fall’’), along with other Chesney staples, from good-timing singalongs (“Live a Little’’) to ersatz introspection (“Where I Grew Up’’). With its mix of big, rock-infused ear candy, anthemic power ballads, and the occasional softer acoustic affair, this sounds like a Chesney record, too, although it skirts a harder country sound at one point (“Small Y’all’’) and a rootsy, Tom Petty vibe at another (“Round and Round’’). While there’s little here that’s new, “Hemingway’s Whiskey’’ is another well-wrought articulation of Chesney’s musical world that will doubtless make its presence felt when he returns to selling out stadiums next summer. (Out tomorrow)

STUART MUNRO

ESSENTIAL “Round and Round’’