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Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates by Kenny Chesney

Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates is a puzzling title for Kenny Chesney’s latest album, and not just because poets and pirates are both in short supply here.

The 11 songs—unusually, none written by Kenny himself—seem less about who he is than any he’s recorded in a long time.

The intriguing mix of beach-bound escapism and melancholy nostalgia that have dominated his output in the last several years has been replaced by a less intimate hodgepodge of seize-the-day inspiration (“Don’t Blink”), party-time hijinx (“Got a Little Crazy”) and working-class character study (“Dancin’ for the Groceries,” about—gulp!—a stripper).

Musically, there are a few slight tweaks in the formula.

Steel drums show up on a mere two cuts, and the bluegrassy touches on the first single, “Never Wanted Nothing More,” are a nice change—although guest Joe Walsh’s incessant talk-box guitar on the cover of Dwight Yoakam’s “Wild Ride” wears out its welcome well before the ride is over.

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