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Kenny Chesney - Welcome to the Fishbowl Album Cover

Kenny Chesney - Welcome to the Fishbowl

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8.0
Kenny Chesney - Welcome to the Fishbowl
Record Label: Blue Chair/Columbia Records
Release Date: June 19, 2012
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Kenny Chesney's fifteenth studio album is nowhere near his best and nowhere near his worst. What is is though is occasionally pleasing, horribly derivative and way too self-indulgent. Lead single "Feel Like a Rock Star," is spunky and guitar-driven and features some decent verses, but all in all the song is kind of boring. "Feel Like a Rock Star," doesn't sound much different from any of Chesney's uptempo singles over the past six or seven years. Moreover, the title track "Welcome to the Fishbowl," has very little to offer save for some thought-provoking lyrics about mainstream media.

Truth be told, Chesney is at his best on mid-tempo numbers and quintessential ballads. Thankfully, Welcome to the Fishbowl has quite a few. First of those is the steamy second single "Come Over," in which the superstar sounds vulnerable, worn down and well, human. The acoustic ballad "I'm a Small Town," is just the kind of thing Chesney could do for the rest of his career and never alienate a single fan. His voice is his greatest asset and when it sounds as authentic and pure as this it can do wonders.

"While He Still Knows Who I Am," has all the trappings to make it big on country radio: strong lyrics, familiar message, gorgeous instrumentation. Slam him all you want, "While He Still Knows Who I Am," is a gosh-darned good song. Keith Gattis' "El Cerrito Place," is a sleepy number presumably about the Los Angeles street that finds the crooner searching for a lady. Once again it is classic Chesney and everything that makes the singer such a commercial draw. The troubadour has admitted that he chose to cover the song because he is a huge fan of both Gattis' version and Charlie Robison's version. Whatever it was that made him choose it, he most certainly hit a home run in singing it. The last of the memorable ones is "Makes Me Wonder," a mid-tempo offering with a strong rock beat that is truly quintessential Kenny. On a song this harmless and free-wheeling, it is easy to see why the Tennessee native is such a big deal. Songs like this just speak to people.

As written earlier, Welcome to the Fishbowl is far from perfect. The meandering and slow, "Sing 'Em Good My Friend," has verses that move like Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia," but suffers from a weak chorus. While the song speaks universally and makes a strong point, the entire effort feels kind of hollow. Similarly, "Time Flies," is frisky, tropical and not much different from anything we've heard from him before. And even though he makes for a great balladeer he can often stumble over his own intentions. Case in point is the maudlin effort "To Get To You (55th and 3rd)," a self-indulgent effort that makes for one of the most god-awful numbers of his career. Being that Chesney has finally found a steady girlfriend, one can't exactly knock the singer for sentimental valentines, but after the saccharine "To Get To You," the tearjerker "To Get To You," just feels like overkill. For reasons unknown Chesney included a live version of "You and Tequila," featuring vocals from Grace Potter. While it is certainly fun to hear the crowd sing along and hear Miss Potter sing, the song was already included on 2010's Hemingway's Whiskey, so why it is on here is anyone's guess.

In the end, only six of the twelve songs really make a dent, and most of them are ballads. And once "While He Still Knows Who I Am," finishes, one might as well turn off the disc. This is upsetting for far too many reasons. At this point in his career, Chesney should know a good song. More importantly he should know how to fill an album with twelve first-rate cuts. Welcome to the Fishbowl is anything but first-rate. More albums like this though, and Chesney himself just might become a caricature of himself.

Recommended If You Like Tim McGraw, Uncle Kracker, Kid Rock, country music, duh
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 39
02:55 PM on 06/25/12
#2
RickMD
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I think it's about time to take "punk" out of the title of this site. Chesney, Kanye, Taylor Swift ...

I'm not saying this in any negative way, I'm just pointing out that it no longer makes any sense.
09:33 PM on 06/25/12
#3
SLADE775
Still the greatest
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wt fuck
09:34 PM on 06/25/12
#4
Gregory Robson
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I think it's about time to take "punk" out of the title of this site. Chesney, Kanye, Taylor Swift ...

I'm not saying this in any negative way, I'm just pointing out that it no longer makes any sense.
Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn't only serve fried chicken. Arby's doesn't only sell roast beef. The site was founded as a punk fan site, but has evolved. Its what it is. Its a known entity. Anyone who knows the site and frequents it, knows this isn't just a punk site. But fair point.
06:09 PM on 06/26/12
#5
Jeremy Aaron
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Time was, I thought that mainstream country was actually pretty decent. The last decade or so, I feel like it's sort of the hair metal of its era: take something with a sort of niche appeal, strip it of its identity, toss out any sense of subtlety or nuance, and voila, cash money. Granted, I'd suppose fans of the Countrypolitan era felt the same way about the artists I grew up listening to in the '80s and '90s, and the honky-tonkers hated the Nashville Sound. All I know is I miss the days when a song like Kenny's "When I Close My Eyes" (far and away his shining moment) was commercially viable. But drunk people can't shout along with that one, can they?
07:00 PM on 06/26/12
#6
Gregory Robson
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Time was, I thought that mainstream country was actually pretty decent. The last decade or so, I feel like it's sort of the hair metal of its era: take something with a sort of niche appeal, strip it of its identity, toss out any sense of subtlety or nuance, and voila, cash money. Granted, I'd suppose fans of the Countrypolitan era felt the same way about the artists I grew up listening to in the '80s and '90s, and the honky-tonkers hated the Nashville Sound. All I know is I miss the days when a song like Kenny's "When I Close My Eyes" (far and away his shining moment) was commercially viable. But drunk people can't shout along with that one, can they?
You hit the nail on the head.
10:08 PM on 06/26/12
#7
ChaseTx
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Glad to see country is becoming less untouchable here. Having said that, I don't care much for this polished, pop crossover arena country... which comprises about 90% of mainstream country these days.

@ Jeremy, I'd suggest something along the lines of Zac Brown Band. They've got amazing musicianship and musical depth as well as the ability to craft massive radio singles.
08:23 AM on 06/27/12
#8
Gregory Robson
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Glad to see country is becoming less untouchable here. Having said that, I don't care much for this polished, pop crossover arena country... which comprises about 90% of mainstream country these days.

@ Jeremy, I'd suggest something along the lines of Zac Brown Band. They've got amazing musicianship and musical depth as well as the ability to craft massive radio singles.
I'll be reviewing Uncaged when it gets released in a few weeks. So stay tuned. Album is freaking amaazing. But do we expect anything less from ZBB?
09:29 AM on 06/27/12
#9
kittypants
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I hate country music. I had always hoped AbsolutePunk would be the lone bastion of non-country related musics. Dang it.
09:46 AM on 06/27/12
t00latef0rr0ses
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Country is just fantastic. Great review man. Look forward to more from this genre.
09:54 AM on 06/27/12
schmalz
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I haven't liked a Kenny Chesney album in a while, but I'll give this a listen.

I enjoy more of the alt country and texas country scene nowadays.
10:11 AM on 06/27/12
uglystar03
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I didn't realize this was his FIFTEENTH album. Jeez.
10:53 AM on 06/27/12
ChaseTx
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I'll be reviewing Uncaged when it gets released in a few weeks. So stay tuned. Album is freaking amaazing. But do we expect anything less from ZBB?
Can't wait for the review then! I feel like ZBB could be very well received by this community if people open their minds to it.
11:01 AM on 06/27/12
Acad08
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Not too much a fan of Chesney, but I really appreciate you taking on some country reviews! After all, we have everything else on this site, so actually it makes perfect sense. Thank you and great review!
11:14 AM on 06/27/12
SmeezyBeezy
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At the risk of sounding incredibly brash, I don't come on this site to see country shit. Please keep it off of here.

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