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Album Review

He may not actually own the Caribbean island of St. John, but Kenny Chesney sure likes to write songs about it. Chesney has been a long-time frequenter to the island paradise where he owns a hefty chunk of land. So when Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed much of the island, leaving local businesses and organizations to suffer, Chesney decided he would do something about it.

Hence, his latest album, Songs for the Saints. It's an effort dedicated to the people of St. John, as well as his own experiences there. Chesney teams up with some other artists who have their own island-culture connections as well, namely Jimmy Buffet and Ziggy Marley, to create songs filled with hope, expectation and an ocean full of beach-bar vibes.

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St. John's tropical breezes seem to offer people a healing, unifying presence. That's something we hear on songs such as “Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season,” “Pirate Song,” “Gulf Moon” and “Island Rain,” in which paradise offers a reprieve from the fast pace of life on the mainland. In the former, Chesney admits, “And now I must confess/I could use some rest/I can’t run at this pace very long.” And in the latter, he suggests that the island offers a kind of healing touch, one that he suggests is almost spiritual in nature: "Close your eyes and see what matters/Wash away your worry and pain/There’s holy water/In an island rain.” (Although it could also be said that Chesney's spiritual compass here isn't quite pointing true north.)

“Ends of the Earth,” a tune originally sung by the band Lord Huron, unpacks a man’s desire to explore the world outside of city life's confines, even if the love of his life won’t adventure with him: “Please don’t say I’m going alone/…What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given/If all you do is stand in one place.”

And just as the island offers its sun-drenched oasis to weary souls, it also offers a place where unity and people come first in songs such as “Get Along” ("Get along while we can/Always give love the upper hand") and “Every Heart” ("Every heart is an island/But no one’s alone/Shipwrecked in a high wind/Tryin’ to find our way home").

Similarly, Chesney expresses his love for the island’s inhabitants (specifically, those who were affected by the hurricane) on songs such as “Love for Love City” and “Songs for the Saints.” In the former, he says “All I’ve got’s love for love city/All of her people are my people, too/Every color, every creed/Together in good times, together in need.”

“Better Boat” expresses Chesney’s desire to build himself into a better man, no matter how long it may take: “I’m not complaining, sometimes it’s hard to change a man/I think I’m stronger than I was/I’ll let God do what he does.”

Objectionable Content

Chesney reminisces about the good times he's spent on St. John, which include a whole lotta’ drinking (by himself and with friends) and some intimate times with women. In songs such as “Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season,” “Gulf Moon,” “Pirate Song,” “Get Along” and “Song For The Saints,” we hear multiple references to tossing back hard liquor and downing beer. In the former, he sings, “I knew I could use a bloody Mary/So I stumbled next door to the bar.” And in “Pirate Song” he wants to “laugh in the devil’s face,” be a free spirit and “make love to some senorita.”

And “Gulf Moon” revisits John Baumann's tale of a small town filled with flirty bartenders, fortune tellers and whiskey “They don’t care for the carnie man/Or the fortune teller that reads your hand/With a glass half-full of Jameson.”

Summary Advisory

You’ll probably turn on this album and hear about how much Chesney enjoys kicking it back with a cold one in the sand.

But this album isn’t just for him. In fact, according to Chesney, “every single cent” from the album will go to the Love for Love City Foundation. Chesney says his desire is that the funds will go to “rebuild hospitals … schools … the initial infrastructure.”

So buying this album isn’t only for a good listen, but for a good cause, too—just as long as you don't get swept away by the tide of alcohol that comes with it.

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Debuted at No. 2.

Record Label

Blue Chair Records, Warner Bros.




July 27, 2018

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Kristin Smith

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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