december 2009

Kenny Chesney
Released: 2003

Tropicalia in the air at the outset of Kenny Chesney's ebullient Yuletide offering, All I Want For Christmas Is a Real Good Tan. The title song is a lilting, Jimmy Buffett-style musing on how living the good life in the sun and the sand as the ideal Christmas present, then "Jingle Bells" gets up and goes with a galloping rhythm and sparkling steel drums energizing the gaiety; and even the lovely ballad, "I'll Be Home for Christmas," takes on a Caribbean cast thanks to the dreamy vibes solos and languid, angular acoustic guitar punctuations. But not to worry—Chesney gets down to brass tacks country in articulating the lively but tender midtempo sentiments of Eddy Raven's "Thank God for Kids," and brings Alabama's Randy Owen on board for a heartfelt salute to a southern-style holiday season via the surging "Christmas in Dixie." Chesney himself co-wrote one fine Yuletide love song for this outing, a rocking billet doux titled "The Angel At the Top Of My Tree," all sweet nothings heightened by some stinging guitar solos and a driving, celebratory feel. And for good measure, Willie Nelson joins in to bring some real-world blue Christmas reality to this otherwise upbeat exercise by way of a poignant duet on his own melancholy seasonal classic, "Pretty Paper." Closing on a contemplative note, Chesney offers up sincere renderings of "Silent Night" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," both being big, orchestrated productions with a basic band adding appropriate pop-country ballast throughout. A little bit whimsical, a little bit blue, a little bit traditional—that's a winning formula for this genial, contemporary take on the Christmas sensibility. — David McGee

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
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