“Everybody’s got a place they go/When the old battery gets a running low/I’m a sucker for the sand and sea,” he sings on Coconut Tree, like an old salt who keeps spinning the same yarn to the guys he meets every night at the bar. That said, Coconut Tree is an amiable ocean breeze of a folk tune that gains considerable charm from guest vocalist Willie Nelson.
Unlike Jimmy Buffett, the melody-rich, island-hopping troubadour he most aspires to emulate, Chesney’s settings are studied, artificial. Quoting Marley (and featuring The Wailers on a generic reggae track) does not an island boy make, any more than wearing a cowboy hat makes a pop singer a country one.
So why isn’t Life on a Rock a wash-out? Because, like his previous placeholder albums, the well-recorded island beach folk makes for an agreeable summer day soundtrack if you don’t turn to it for intellectualizing or poetry. And these diversions from the formulaic mainstream fare of his regular albums, like last year’s misfire, Welcome to the Fishbowl, won’t overstay their welcome on country radio.
Download: Coconut Tree, Must Be Something I Missed.
Lady Antebellum, Golden (Capitol Nashville) * * 1/2
The award-winning single Need You Now still seems like a fluke, but Lady Antebellum clearly noted the recent overdue acceptance of label mate, Little Big Town, and the country-pop trio rises to the challenge by delivering its meatiest, most aggressive album yet. That’s not to say it’s great or that Lady A captures any of the vocal personality of Little Big Town, but expertly crafted, catchy radio material like Get to Me, Goodbye Town or the emotive It Ain’t Pretty will brighten the airwaves over the summer.
Download: Get to Me, It Ain’t Pretty.
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