Album Review: Kenny Chesney - Welcome To The Fishbowl
By: Matt Bjorke
The realities of maintaing a successful recording career for twenty years is a challenge few artists can successfully navigate. It's downright rare in the pop music world but in country music, where fans stay loyal far longer, it's a little more manageable. And yet, it's still relatively hard. I could probably count on one hand the amount of country artists who are still relevant 20 years after their debut with Kenny Chesney one of the few artists. In fact, he joins a small list of superstars that are still able to sell-out arenas and stadium tours and for the first time in a long time, if not his career, Kenny Chesney's launching his Stadium tour with Tim McGraw at the same time he's launching Welcome To The Fishbowl, the follow-up to the Platinum Hemingway's Whiskey, a record which gave him some of the most glowing reviews of his career. Look for "Fishbowl" to do the same.
The record's lead pair of tracks are the Top 10 duet "Feel Like A Rock Star" with Tim McGraw and the fastest rising single of Kenny's career, the smoldering "Come Over" (both discussed at different points on our site). the title track is a rocking rumination on the perils of being a star, "a big freakshow, welcome to the fishbowl." It's an interesting look into the celebrity of me and 'first to report, damn the facts' atomsphere of celebrity and celebrity news these days. While Chesney is in fact not as open with his personal life as he seems to say he is here, he's definitely had more than his fair share of living in the fishbowl. I'd expect this tune to be a track on the radio at some point.
"Sing 'Em Good My Friend" feels like a rootsy, mood-setting kind of song not out of the realm of what Needtobreathe does and the song deals with what a lot of this records seams to deal with a lot more than previous Chesney albums; his own mortality and the fact that all good things come to an end. That being said, the song also has a little hope to it too, a hope of passing on an instrument while it still has some life left in it.. This is by far the theme of the album and one that surfaces again on "Always Gonna Be With You," and the best track on this album "While He Still Knows Who I Am," a well-written song (the reliable Tom Douglas, Dave Berg and Georgia Middleman) about alzheimer's and the need to get to those we love while they're still around for us to enjoy time with.
Welcome To The Fishbowl features a beach song ("Time Flies" [when you're having rum]), a couple of songs that deal with love, "To Get To You" and "Makes Me Wonder," and "El Cerrito Place." "I Am A Small Town" is a lyrically strong song which takes the tired small town theme and turns it into an interesting song about a small town, from the small town's point of view.
Welcome To The Fishbowl should easily join Kenny Chesney's past albums as #1-selling country records and there's no doubt that it's also amongst the best in his career, a career that is as strong now as it was promising 20 years ago when he released "The Tin Man" for the small Capricorn label.