Welcome to the Fishbowl by Kenny Chesney

With 2010’s Hemingway’s Whiskey, Kenny seemed to transform from his ocean-loving, beach bum incarnation into a moodier and more introspective character. This time around, the superstar delves headlong into melancholy.

The majority of the ballads here (“While He Still Knows Who I Am,” “Always Gonna Be You,” “Sing ’Em Good My Friend,” “I’m a Small Town”) harbor ardent aspirations—and indeed, Kenny’s sincere vocal delivery and the lyric content of each track are promising—but together, they register barely above maudlin, thanks to an overabundance of puttering tempos and downtrodden story lines.

While the title track offers a party atmosphere and potential insight into what many perceive as the superstar’s glittering life, Kenny instead takes aim at a culture that glorifies shortcuts to fame.

With “Time Flies” and the Tim McGraw event single “Feel Like a Rock Star” as the two additional up-tempo offerings here, the album’s bound to leave some fans hoping Kenny will book another trip to the islands with his trusty acoustic and a cold drink, if only to find a balance between his previously lighthearted fare and the brooding material that abounds on this effort.

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