When last year’s Songs for The Saints Tour took Kenny Chesney
to the fans in places he doesn’t always get to, that same focus on the
lives and times of No Shoes Nation inspired him in powerful ways. His
first true studio project for Warner Music Nashville, the album that’s
taking shape, has been carefully shaped to reflect the people who mean
the most to him.
“No Shoes Nation are the most passionate people I’ve ever seen,” Chesney says. “When I started listening to songs, even before Songs for the Saints came together, I was thinking about how incredible they sounded on Live From No Shoes Nation;
about all the stories people tell me about what the songs mean to them,
how they’ve been part of their lives. It makes you want to really
write, find and record stuff that measures up to that.”
The East Tennessee songwriter began
amassing songs, experimenting in the studio and working to find the
right mix of sounds, themes and feelings. His first studio recording
since 2018’s Cosmic Hallelujah manifests an accumulation of all the music since.
Making this project over the last few years
allowed for unique collaborations with the best musicians who’ve been
part of recordings that have defined coming of age in the 21st century.
Some rocking, some thoughtful, the high energy performer wants this
record to speak to and connect with the fans who’ve found his music
something to believe in no matter their state of being.
“People tell me their stories, what a song
has meant, where and when they’ve played it, funerals, weddings, big
games” says the eight-time Entertainer of the Year. “You realize what
these songs represent. It’s not just a hit record, but a piece of
people’s lives, words when they need them, a break or a place to
cry…and yes, a lot of times a lot of fun.
“For me, I wanted this record to reflect
all that. We have songs with the most rocking guitars and massive drums,
but I have a song with just Mac McAnally and John Hobbs, who played
piano on so many records, and me. Just listening to those two play, you
can hear how much music means to them, too. It’s powerful.
“And for the writers, the way we did it
wasn’t so much ‘Let’s get some songs…,’ as it was, ‘Let’s get
together!’ We talked a lot. We laughed a lot. We remembered a lot. It
was more about how much we all
loved music, diving into talking about how music shaped us. A lot of
songs got written after people went home for the night, because they
were inspired, which is how Nashville was when I first got there.”
No word on album title, how many tracks or
release date, but work on Chesney’s first Warner Music Nashville record
is obviously focusing and finishing up. With his Chillaxification 2020 Tour kicking off April 18 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the only country artist on Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years is ready to reconnect with NSN.
Photo Credit: Jill Trunnell