Album Review – Kenny Chesney’s ‘Cosmic Hallelujah’

kenny-chesney-cosmic-bullshit

If you asked me what mainstream country artist I get questioned the most on when it comes to my position on them, it would be hands down Kenny Chesney. I usually have a pretty negative or lukewarm take on his music and this seems to take a good bit of people off guard, much to my surprise. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to be impressed by an artist whose career has consisted mostly of music about the beach, simplistic themes that have been done to death and drinking. I thought his last album The Big Revival really drove this across, but apparently it didn’t. So now Chesney returns with the followup to it, Cosmic Hallelujah. This title just screams bullshit to me, but I still gave it chance since there’s not many other releases coming up in November. It was pretty much what I expected all along and further reinforced my stance on his music because Chesney does absolute nothing new on this album.

This is same old tired schtick from Chesney I’ve heard for years from him. There’s a boring, generic song about how we should live it up because we’re alive, so let’s crack a can of (insert current Chesney beer sponsor) and party that I feel like I’ve heard a 1,001 times and counting. Can you guess which song I’m referring to? Trick question! This actually refers to multiple songs, including “Trip Around the Sun,” “Some Town, Somewhere” and “Winnebago.” Of course pretty much every song alludes to this theme in some way or another. Chesney sings about only listening to pretty girls on “All the Pretty Girls.” I don’t what the hell the appeal of this song is and I don’t really want to waste precious air and time on trying to figure it out. It’s three and a half minutes I’ll never get back.

“Setting The World On Fire” is this album’s big hit so far, despite the fact the guest of the song Pink sings more than purported main artist of the song, Chesney. The only thing I have to further add about this song is I would rather be listening to Pink over Chesney any day because her music is actually interesting. There’s a song on this album called “Bar at the End of the World,” which makes no sense because I thought Chesney and Pink already set the world on fire. Yeah I know this is a bad joke, but I assure you that this is more interesting than the song, which is also a bad joke.

I was expecting to like at least one song on the album and the most likely candidate seemed to be “Jesus and Elvis.” That’s because two of the three songwriters on the song are Hayes Carll and Allison Moorer, who I greatly respect and enjoy their work. Well I don’t even like this one because this song seems to have an idea, but never does anything with it. The theme seems to be reuniting with old friends, but this is never expanded upon or has anything meaningful to say. We just keep hearing Chesney drone on about velvet paintings of Jesus and Elvis. The album’s lead single “Noise” is so damn boring that country radio didn’t even like it and they’ll usually play any bullshit Chesney sends to them. That should tell you all you need to know about this lame attempt by Chesney to say something about the prevalence of media today. What’s sad is this is probably the best song on Cosmic Hallelujah. And I haven’t gotten to the very worst of this album.

I’m on record as not being a fan of Chesney’s hit song “Boys of Fall” due to the fact it’s a song that over-glorifies high school football to the point I want to puke and features some of the most saccharine bullshit I’ve ever seen spewed about sports. And this comes from a sport fans. So you can put me down for the same thing when it comes to this album’s concluding song “Coach.” Also I’m officially predicting this will be Chesney’s current single in the fall of 2017. If I had to pick the dumbest song of the album, it would have to go to “Bucket.” Written by Brett James and Craig Wiseman, this song is getting drunk and saying fuck it to your responsibilities. This isn’t just me showing anger; this is what the song is actually about as Chesney sings a line about how you should replace the b in bucket list with an f. Some will argue this is just a dumb fun song, but I argue this is just plain dumb.

There’s a lot of boring crap on this album and it makes me want to rip my hair out. But there’s only song on this album that really pisses me off and that’s “Rich and Miserable.” This might be the worst song of Chesney’s entire career, even worse than “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” It’s a stilted, clunky, heavily pop influenced song that is essentially “Noise 2: Electric Boogaloo.” Chesney does not sing on this song, but is rather somewhere between shouting and mumbling. I think the title of the song perfectly personifies where Chesney’s career and mindset is at this time.

I can confidently say after listening to Kenny Chesney’s Cosmic Hallelujah that I never want to hear it again for the rest of my life. I absolutely hate this album and I was actively angry as I forced myself to listen to it. If you made me choose between listening to this album or Florida Georgia Line’s newest album Dig Your Roots, I would choose the latter every single time because the latter actually has some good songs. Chesney clearly isn’t trying anymore and just wants this paycheck. At this point he’s just rehashing the same old songs we’ve heard from him year after year.

Grade: 3/10

 

Recommend? – Hell No!

Album Highlights: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing to see here.

Bad Songs: Rich and Miserable, Coach, Bucket, All the Pretty Girls

Wallpaper: The rest of the album


Stream The Entire Album Below I Guess:

Review – Blake Shelton’s “Came Here To Forget” is a Pointless Lie

Blake Shelton Came Here To Forget

You know I was really wanting to like Blake Shelton again. I thought for sure that Shelton’s divorce from fellow country music superstar Miranda Lambert was the kind of life-changing event that would make him pursue more serious music. After all a divorce is quite serious and something that makes you experience a plethora of emotions. Many artists harness these emotions to create beautiful music. But Blake Shelton? It’s pretty much business as usual with him. This comes after I wrote a lengthy piece on why Shelton deserved another chance and how he could easily realize his full potential again. He could still accomplish this on his album set to come out on May 20, titled If I’m Honest. But if the lead single “Came Here To Forget” is an indication of what the album will be like, then it will definitely fall short.

“Came Here To Forget” is your typical pop and R&B influenced “country” song that isn’t really country. You’ll notice the drum machine loops right away and realize this is just a continuation of Shelton’s painfully boring last album Bringing On The Sunshine. There is absolutely zero heart or soul in the music. It’s robotic, formulaic, paint-by-the numbers in the production, lyrics and instrumentation. And keep in mind this is a sad, drinking song when there’s nothing about the song that attempts to be sad except the cliché lyrics. A country music heartbreak song needs to be emotional and pull at a listeners’ heartstrings. It’s something Shelton is capable of doing. But here all he does is put you to sleep. While his vocals sound good, he sounds completely uninterested throughout the song.

But you know what the biggest problem is with this song? It’s what Shelton had to say about it leading up to its release. In several interviews he said the song was personal and said stuff like this in an interview with Country Countdown USA:

I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, and that’s put all I’ve gone through and put it into music, and I never felt more connected to a record before. When people hear this record, they may not know what happened to me, but they’re gonna know how I felt about it. And that’s exciting for me, to just lay it out there for people.

There’s absolutely nothing personal about this single, except maybe the line about “getting even with her.” We all got to see this lat year at the CMA Awards, which completely backfired in Shelton’s face as he looked like a huge jackass for pulling such a stunt at one of country music’s biggest events of the year. But can you really even say this line was personal? It’s arguable because Blake Shelton had nothing to do with writing this song. You see when someone has a personal song I like to think they wrote it. When I think of a personal song I think of Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” which he wrote for his wife. I think of Sturgill Simpson’s “Turtles All The Way Down,” where Sturgill writes and sings about his journey of taking drugs and realizing that love is all you really need. These are personal songs. “Came Here To Forget” was written by Craig Wiseman and Deric Ruttan, who were also responsible for writing one of the worst country songs ever, “Boys ‘Round Here.” I think that says all you need to know about these writers and this song.

Blake Shelton’s “Came Here To Forget” is generic garbage that is devoid of emotion and any semblance of a true country heartbreak song. I’m sure this song is guaranteed to be a hit because Blake Shelton fans don’t have standards and will eat up anything he puts out. Secondly, Shelton is one of the select group of artists that is in country radio’s back pocket and that guarantees him a lot of airplay. There’s not much else to say. You’re better off avoiding this song and listening to almost anything else. Sam Hunt songs at least incite rage. “Came Here To Forget” just makes you wish you had that three minutes and 40 seconds of your life back.

Grade: 2/10

Album Review – Brothers Osborne’s “Pawn Shop”

 

“I think people are tired of the bullshit and are ready for the real substance,”

John Osborne told that to Rolling Stone as new country music duo, Brothers Osborne, readied their second radio single, “Stay A Little Longer.” John (lead guitar) and his brother T.J. (vocals) are ready to go toe to toe with country’s hottest male duos like Florida Georgia Line and Dan + Shay. Osborne also said that we may be on the cusp of a country music era where songs will have longer shelf lives down the road. While that remains to be seen, Brothers Osborne seem poised to bring forth more organic music to country radio. The duo has a Grammy nomination for Country Group/Duo Performance for the Gold-Certified “Stay a Little Longer.” Riding the wave of a top five single and Grammy nomination, Brothers Osborne have released their first full length album with the help of producer Jay Joyce. Pawn Shop features 11 songs, all of which the brothers co-wrote with several of country’s hot shot writers like Jessi Alexander, Craig Wiseman, and Shane McAnally to name a few. I’d argue that Pawn Shop isn’t quite an album full of substance, but the Brothers Osborne certainly take country music a step in the right direction.

Brothers Osborne and Pawn Shop have already differentiated themselves from the pack with singles like “Rum” and “Stay a Little Longer.” But that’s taken one step further with the album’s lead track, “Dirt Rich.” A heavy picking acoustic guitar lays the ground for the melody before a simple percussion track joins the mix. The “less is more” attitude fits with this song’s production. Playing off the phrase “dirt poor,” the song encourages those blue-collar, down on your luck folks to embrace their situation. The appliances in the kitchen may be broken and the mailbox may be standing crooked, but that’s the way life goes sometimes. Brothers Osborne have more rock influence in their music than country, in my opinion, and “21 Summer” is one of the several songs on Pawn Shop that show the rock influence. The gentle beat of guitars and percussion set the mood for the nostalgic ballad. T.J. sings of the memories of the summer he turned 21 and the girl who made a man of him.

The album cut of “Stay a Little Longer” features an extended guitar outro that was cut from the radio edit. The song nicely strides the line between country and rock, fitting nicely into both genres. Brothers Osborne made a great choice with releasing the single to radio, because this is arguably the best song on the album. The whole package of lyrics, vocals, and production work together in “Stay a Little Longer.” “Pawn Shop” is a song where the heavy acoustic picking is in the forefront of the production mix. Sticking with the blue-collar themes of those just getting by, the song is an ode to pawn shops. Selling for some extra cash, finding what you need at a cheap rate, even if it isn’t the best. The deep, baritone vocals are a nice touch to the song with the production to help the song stand out. Even though the lyrical content is nothing special, the song is packaged nicely.

The duo’s lead single “Rum” comes next. As Josh wrote in the song review, “This is a song you listen to after a long day of work and just unwind to. The instrumentation used in this song is what really makes this song good. There are a lot of influences from rock, blues and folk mixed in with this country beat. Really the instrumentation is the star of “Rum.”” Brothers Osborne are joined by Lee Ann Womack for “Loving Me Back.” This love song finds a man happy with the fact that he’s found a woman who can love him back. The production of this song is top-notch. It’s simple with little guitar tracks. The production allows the vocals room to stand out, which is a good thing as T.J. Osborne and Lee Ann Womack harmonize together really well on the chorus of the song. The lyrics, though, of this song are a cliché pile of crap. “You get me high, you get me stoned, it’s a ride I ain’t never been on. It’s a binge, it’s a buzz, it’s a drunk I can’t find in no glass.” Sure the verses sort of set the stage about how this man has spent years loving his vices and things that bring him down, but to resort to a chorus with a lead line like that is major cop-out. “Loving Me Back” is a wasted opportunity for a collaboration with Lee Ann Womack.

“American Crazy” is a song that doesn’t help the cause of bringing real substance to country music. The song is basically “Drunk Americans” 2.0. Brothers Osborne sing in the chorus, “We’re lost, we’re found, we’re up, we’re down, we’re all just American crazy. We’re left, we’re right, we’re black, we’re white, we’re all just American crazy.” This song is nothing but two and a half minutes of stupid clichés that should have been left off the album. The blue-collar blues continue in “Greener Pastures.” The song finds our narrator down to his last resort after praying and working hard with nothing to show for it, so he moves onto greener pastures. In this case, though, greener pastures is marijuana. Growing and smoking weed in order to cope with life’s tough battle. Sure, it’s another country music song about pot, but there’s semblance of something deeper about the motivations for turning to pot. “Greener Pastures” also has a more country/rockabilly feel to the production, a great, modern callback to country’s early sound. While the content of the song will detract some, I think the song works because it’s packaged nicely in its story telling and production.

“Down Home” is another rock-like song. The electric guitar leads the way, showing no signs of trying to cater to the country side of music – save for the lyrics. “Down Home” is a party song in a small town. A bunch of buddies getting together and raising hell in a town where nothing much happens. “Heart Shaped Locket” is perhaps the most country song on the album. Noticeable banjo and steel guitar find its way into the mid-tempo production. The song finds a woman in a relationship ready to go out on the town. The man, already suspicious of her cheating, feels that his suspicions are confirmed by the way she’s dressed. He wants to know who’s in her heart-shaped locket, because he knows it’s no longer him. “Heart Shaped Locket” is another song that shows the full potential of Brothers Osborne; it’s the kind of modern, substance-filled song that country radio should embrace. Pawn Shop ends with “It Ain’t My Fault.” The narrator is out on the town having a good time, but it’s not his fault. It’s the band’s fault who played the song that fueled the party. It’s the ex’s fault that he’s drinking, and it’s his family’s history that he’s a wild boy. Essentially, the lyrics try to tell some story, but this is a song meant to get a crowd rowdy and having fun. The electric guitar leads the beat and drum kicks in this rollicking rock song.

Overall, Pawn Shop shows flashes of what the Brothers Osborne are capable of bringing to country music. They have an organic production that shows commitment to their own style away from the masses of their country music pop peers. The almost folk style of rock/country with the lone acoustic guitar like in “Dirt Rich” or even “Loving Me Back” is a definite musical niche for the duo. The lyrics, however, don’t do quite enough to bring more substance to country music. Several songs rely on overdone cliches and lazy tropes to tell the story. There are moments here, like “Heart Shaped Locket,” where if you let the brothers be who they want to be, they can bring some great country music. Pawn Shop shows nothing but potential for the Brothers Osborne. If Music Row can leave them alone and allow the duo to grow and progress as artists on their own terms, then we will be in for a treat with future albums. Pawn Shop isn’t anything special, but it’s worth listening to at least once.

Grade: 6/10

Album Review – Blake Shelton’s Bringing Back The Sunshine

Based on the first two songs released from Blake Shelton’s new album Bringing Back The Sunshine, I was expecting a return to substance for the country superstar. “Neon Light” wasn’t the greatest country song in the world, but it sounded country for the most part. Then “Lonely Tonight” was released, a song I enjoy so much that it made my top ten country songs of September list. More on that song in a brief moment. Shelton has a talented voice and has proven in the past to make some pretty good music, but has also proven to make some of the worst “country” music ever (looking right at you “Boys ‘Round Here”). I was really hoping to see more of the former instead of the latter with this album and for the most part there was more of the former. But the latter shows its ugly head on this album and it isn’t pretty.

The Best Songs on the Album

Let’s start though with what Shelton got right on his new album. By far the best song on the album is his love ballad duet with the fantastic Ashley Monroe, “Lonely Tonight.” This is the second duet the duo have done together, with the first being on Monroe’s debut solo album last year. Both have great chemistry and their vocals are great, especially Monroe’s vocals despite her role in the song not being big. The song itself is about two people breaking up, but wanting to keep holding onto the relationship. The song tells a good story with the lyrics.

The album’s title track which kicks off the album is an upbeat and energetic love song. Shelton’s vocals are pretty good on this song. The electric guitar play is solid, giving the song a rock country feel to it. The lyrics on it are a little bit boring, but the song is decent and I wouldn’t mind hearing it on the radio. The other song I would classify as “good” on this album is “Anyone Else,” a song towards the end of the album. The song is about a man who was in a relationship with a woman who was never happy for him, but he was always happy for her. Basically he was in a bad relationship and he wonders why it didn’t work out. The song is actually pretty good and tells a story with some emotion behind the lyrics. These are the type of songs I would like to hear from Shelton.

The Worst Songs on the Album

(Warning: NSFW language ahead)

Okay where do I begin with the worst songs on this album? Let’s start with “Gonna” (innovative title, huh?). The song starts with the same R&B sound you hear on “Neon Light.” The best way to describe this song is it’s another version of Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again” and it even has an annoying chorus just like Bryan’s song. It’s a pop country song that the mainstream country music masses with eat right up. Surprisingly, Dallas Davidson did not write this song nor did he write a single song on this album. Strange because the worst songs on this album seem like they would be right up his alley of songwriting.

This is followed up with the song “A Girl.” Gee I wonder what this damn song is about? This is the same stuff you’ve been hearing on country radio for a while. It tries to be personal and creative, but it just isn’t. It also tries to be a romantic ballad dedicated to females, but maybe calling them “a girl” instead of a woman would be a nice start. I guess it’s a country song? I don’t know, but I do know this song is just really boring and it’s hard to pay attention to it. The same can be said for “Sangria.” I think Blake Shelton is just trying to be Barry White with this album because this is another “romantic” love ballad. Instead he just sounds like a modern-day version of “sexual miscreant” Conway Twitty (what Trigger at Saving Country Music calls him). The song is about Shelton with some girl in a motel trying to screw her. Another song with bland lyrics.The boring lyrics continue with “Just South of Heaven.” The song has a pop country beat with laundry list lyrics. There’s a banjo in the song, which is nice. I guess this song is about hanging out in the woods or somewhere in the country? We’ll go with that. The theme isn’t real clear. Again I’m bored by these clichéd lyrics.

If this isn’t enough I’m now going to discuss the worst song on the album and a bonafide candidate for Country Perspective’s Worst Country Song of 2014. That song is “Buzzin’.” This fucking song. Twerking is mentioned in the opening lyrics, so you know it’s going to be bad from the start. Does it matter what this song is about? It just fucking sucks! This is Shelton’s “Boys Round Here” for 2014. By the way Craig Wiseman who helped write that horrible song, also co-wrote this horrible song along with Kendell Marvel. To put the cherry on top of this big pile of shit is RaeLynn, who I consider the worst singer in mainstream country music. What do we have to do to make her stop singing? I’m tired of Blake Shelton trying to make RaeLynn happen. Luckily her role in this song is quite minimal and makes me wonder why she was even credited as taking part in the song.

The Rest of the Album

For those who didn’t see my review of “Neon Light” here’s the gist of that review: “This song is about a man getting over a hard breakup. He’s dealing with it by drinking and finding another woman to heal his broken heart. It’s a nice return to a theme with substance for Shelton. The song has a mixture of emotions in it, from sad to angry to vengeful to hopeful. When you’re at a bar drinking and getting over your heart being broken, these are normal feelings. It just comes up short in being a great song, instead of just decent. Some poor lyric choices and overproduced instrumentation does in another mainstream country song.”

“I Need My Girl” name drops alcohol and cigarette brands in the opening lyrics. Instead of the man wanting his vices he wants his “girl.” Shelton’s vocals are pretty good, but it’s pretty overproduced in terms of instrumentation. This song would have been much better if it was stripped down and only included an acoustic guitar because it was actually decently written. I guess “Good Country Song” is supposed to be Shelton’s peace-offering to appease traditional country fans. This song basically tells us what real country music fans already know: what good country music is supposed to be. Too bad Shelton doesn’t take his own advice with his music because he actually knows what good country sounds like. The song is decent and you’ll enjoy it if you liked the similar song from Brad Paisley called “This Is Country Music,” sans the sappy lyrics of Paisley’s song. Shelton’s name dropping of country greats like George Strait and Keith Whitley is his desperate attempt to win traditional country fans’ hearts, but this reviewer isn’t impressed. The song does sound traditional at least.

The album concludes with “Just Gettin’ Started,” a feel good party song with a modern country sound. It’s your typical generic party song with the usual lyrics you hear in these type of songs nowadays. The song is catchy and easy to remember, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was released as a single to radio. It’s an average song at best.

Overall Thoughts

I honestly expected more from Shelton on Bringing Back The Sunshine, but instead he just brings back his usual sound you heard on his last album. There’s one great song, a few decent ones, a few average songs and a handful of bad songs. There were two things I learned from this album. First don’t expect much from Shelton nowadays because he will probably disappoint you. Second and most importantly this album reinforced my thoughts that the world needs more Ashley Monroe music and less Blake Shelton music. Shelton can cry the blues all he wants about critics like me, but until he starts producing better music I’m not going to applaud his music. I’ve proven through my reviews that if you make good music regardless of my past thoughts on the artist, whether you’re Florida Georgia Line or Tyler Farr, I’ll give credit where it’s due. Unfortunately there’s not much credit due on this album outside of one song. Go buy “Lonely Tonight,” but I recommend staying away from the rest of the album.

Grade: 4/10