Kenny Chesney, "The Big Revival" (Blue Chair/Columbia)
Kenny Chesney took a year off before recording his new album, "The Big Revival," and it shows. Cohesive in scope, "The Big Revival" suggests the veteran country star is determined to extend his two-decade string of top 10 hits — something he has achieved with first single, "American Kids."
Chesney has continually tinkered with his sound, growing more introspective in recent years while remaining the king of the arena sing-along. Chesney's forte is that even his rockers offer snapshots of the lives of his fans, as he does here on "Beer Can Chicken," which he co-wrote. A rocker like "Drink It Up" avoids the clichés flowing through contemporary country songs by injecting some real-life gravitas.
Working with longtime co-producer Buddy Cannon, Chesney slips some modern Nashville rhythms and loops into songs like "Til It's Gone" and "Rock Bottom," yet holds on to the classic-rock guitar sound he loves. But the album's most powerful moment arrives with the closer "If This Bus Could Talk," which traces Chesney's story from a nervous greenhorn opening for Patty Loveless in 1993 through the twists and turns of a long career.
Today's country arena rockers may model themselves on Chesney's good-time style, but "The Big Revival" proves they still have a thing or two to learn from him.