Chesney strikes perfect balance between new and old in Cosmic Hallelujah

Henry Tantum

“It’s a Cosmic Hallelujah / That we’re sittin’ here right now / And Becky’s at the bar buying us all another round.”

In his newest country album, Kenny Chesney succeeds in combining a newer, upbeat feel with his classic laid-back island rhythm to create a brilliant 11-track work of art.

“Cosmic Hallelujah” is a near-perfect reflection of the evolution of Chesney’s musical style since he released his debut album, “In My Wildest Dreams,” over two decades ago. Chesney’s music has generally moved from a slower, more mellow tone, towards the fast paced, louder sounds of newer ‘pop country.’

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Two songs in the new album in particular– “Setting the World On Fire (feat. P!nk)” and “Noise”– reflect this change in Chesney’s music style. Similar to his hit song “American Kids,” released last year which is already his most popular song on Spotify, these songs show his shift towards a faster, more rambunctious tone.

However, other songs on the album, songs that I prefer, hint at Chesney’s island-inspired, emotion-filled songs from his earlier albums. “Coach,” for example, immediately reminded me of his “Happy On The Hey Now” released in 2013.

It was these songs, which fell back to Chesney’s roots, that come out as my favorites on the album. “Jesus and Elvis,” for example, reminded me fondly of various songs on his 2008 album “Lucky Old Sun,” because of their island feel, while “All The Pretty Girls,” brings out the warm, almost playful feel Chesney achieves in his greatest songs.

“Cosmic Hallelujah” will be a success. Although it in some ways moves away from the softer sounds of his previous albums, those newer songs will likely be popular and enjoyed by the growing population of ‘Pop Country’ enthusiasts. And, for those who prefer the old Chesney, various songs will return listeners to those times as well. In “Cosmic Hallelujah,” Chesney has struck the perfect balance between old and new.