That Lucky Old Sun, Kenny Chesney feat. Willie Nelson 1

Kenny Chesney and Willie Nelson

Lucky Old Sun

Kenny Chesney may title his 12th album after the pop standard that he sings here with Willie Nelson, but don’t mistake Lucky Old Sun for his Stardust.

This duet with Willie Nelson is a cover of a 1949 standard made famous by Frankie Laine in 1949. Brian Wilson recorded That Lucky Old Sun around the same time as Chesney. And, like the Country star, also made it the title track of his 2008 album.

Chesney explained to USA Today that working with Nelson helped bring about a musical change in the way he recorded Lucky Old Sun.

He explained:

“Hanging out with him, I felt an artistic shift in a small way. This album isn’t about a lot of layered guitars, and it’s not about a very slick production. I’m letting my vocal lead the track instead of the track leading the vocal. These songs demanded that.”

This was Willie Nelson’s first chart appearance on the Country survey in almost five years. In early 2004, Nelson had another Chesney collaboration, the holiday song “Pretty Paper.”

Inside the album, Lucky Old Sun

Chesney is tipping his hat, not just to the Great American Songbook but the great ball in the sky, the one that shines on beaches from coast to coast, with the Gulf of Mexico being a particular favorite in his book. Lucky Old Sun is designed to be a soundtrack to laid-back afternoons on the warm sand, which by now is very familiar territory for Chesney in his personal and professional life.

As former tour mate George Strait has proven throughout his career, familiarity can be comforting and fruitful, but Chesney forgoes subtle pleasures for mere complacency, delivering no more than what his audience expects. Coming from a musician who quietly subverted country rules as he was climbing the charts, this slow shrug is something different. Since Chesney swaps Buffett’s boozy goofball shtick for gentle strumming, this isn’t music for a party, its music that laps softly against the shore.

To be sure, the songs bring pleasure, but it’s all about appreciating the album as pure texture.

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