No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems by Kenny Chesney
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems' carefree title and cover photo don't hint at the gravity of its concerns. Fully half the songs are about the elusive pleasures and lingering consequences of the past—It's yesterday again here inside my mind, he sings on "I Remember," one of several tunes that fixate on regret.
That doesn't mean all these tales have sad endings: "Never Gonna Feel Like That Again" begins in helpless nostalgia and ends with happiness in the present. And some songs aren't sad at all; the title cut is just as laid-back and untroubled as you'd imagine. But the album leaves us (except for a surprise hidden track) with a sprawling rendition of Bruce Springsteen's spellbinding snapshot of love painfully dying, "One Step Up."
Musically, No Shoes is crisp and commanding, from the walloping drums on the opening hit "Young" to the aggressive guitars of "Live Those Songs." But Kenny's commanding voice always cuts through, keeping the focus on the contemplative lyrics.
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems is the sound of a man taking a long, hard look at where he's been, and where he's going. Listen in, and you can do the same.