Picks and Pans Review: Kenny Chesney

UPDATED 02/07/2005 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/07/2005 at 01:00 AM EST

Be As You Are: Songs from an Old Blue Chair
COUNTRY

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Sounding as if he is ready to trade in his cowboy boots for flip-flops, Kenny Chesney spends most of Be As You Are rhapsodizing about the island life. On this misguided follow-up to last year's hit When the Sun Goes Down, the country star is so obsessed with the Caribbean that he has recorded one of the dumbest songs of all time, "French Kissin' Life," on which he sings about "French kissin' life square in the mouth and sailing out on the sea." Even "She's from Boston" is about a woman who wears a Red Sox cap only to "hide her baby dreads." Trotting along dutifully in Jimmy Buffett's footsteps, Chesney adopts Buffett's feckless, loosey-goosey style so much so that one wonders why he doesn't just go ahead and cover "Margaritaville," "Jamaica Farewell" and "The Banana Boat Song." Chesney's backup band, especially Tommy White on dobro, does everything but bring in palm trees to give him a picturesque background. Pleasant backgrounds can't compensate for empty foregrounds, however. If Chesney wanted to evoke the image of someone strolling idly on a beach, he has succeeded. How musical he sounds may depend on how many margaritas you've had.

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