Here and Now is something of the inverse to Songs for the Saints, the quiet 2018 record that began Kenny Chesney’s association with Warner Brothers Nashville. By opening the album with “We Do,” a rallying cry for his No Shoes Nation — a song that seems designed to kick off an arena show — Chesney sets the expectation for breezy fun. Despite a couple of moments of twilight contemplation, such as the quiet closer “Guys Named Captain,” Here and Now generally delivers on this promise of a party, but occasionally the good times arrive with a bit of a melancholy undercurrent. Certainly, this is true of “Everyone She Knows,” where the slick surface disguises how its protagonist never feels in step with the crowd, and “Wasted” isn’t a beery bash but a reflection of a life cheerfully frittered away. Maybe some regrets flow through these tunes — and “You Don’t Get To” is one of his best breakup songs — but Chesney is sincere when he sings that his favorite place to be is the here and now. He’s settling into a middle age where he doesn’t stretch himself musically — these rockers, radio-ready pop tunes, beach anthems. and back porch ballads are firmly within his wheelhouse — but does explore different emotions, giving Here and Now a quiet but real resonance.
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