'Be As You Are' plays eerily like a slideshow of holiday emotions from the inside of a...
Cormac Heron 2004
Last year the 38th Annual Country Music Awards nominations list ran list a Who's Who of current country music superstars, with the exception arguably being an advertising graduate whose music career only really got under way in 1991. Triple platinum albums aside, Kenny Chesney must have had a shock to win the coveted CMA prize with the likes of Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and Brooks & Dunn in amongst his fellow nominees.
So what do you do when you win aCMA? Come out with another album as soon as you can, package it all up and release half of the tracks as singles? Well, apparently not; for Be As You Are: Songs From An Old Blue Chair is being marketed as a lifestyle project. A lifestyle project? Yes.
Forget the counter-marketing, Be As You Are... is a result of Chesney having been on holiday in the Caribbean to (apparently) get away from it all. And it does play eerily like a slideshow of holiday emotions from the inside of a country singer's head.
The shakers and spanish guitar are the main feature of this release and they do help conjure up turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. Heck, even the sleigh bells on "French Kissing Life" don't get in the way of the song's sunshine.
When the upbeat reggae rhythm introduces "Guitars And Tiki Bars" - along with its brass, timbales and steel drums - one can't help but be suspicious. Thankfully, though, Chesney's conviction in his mission to be relaxed dispells any notion of this being a novelty record. If in doubt, listen to the opening bars of "Boston": guitar, snare, bongos and shakers, what else do you need?
So a holiday in the Caribbean might be just what the doctor ordered to give an artist a new direction. As Chesney explains, 'It's not just a party place, or drinks with umbrellas,it's just a different way of looking at the world'. Be As You Are... certainly does sound like it comes from a man who feels no need to prove anything to anyone. And it's a breath of fresh air.