Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates

( 10 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Featuring the hit single "Never Wanted Nothin'," country superstar Kenny Chesney turns to some of Nashville's brightest songwriters for his first studio album in two years. The result is an intimate and uproarious collection.
Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Lost in the hubbub of his ascendancy to the apex of the country mainstream is the memory of Kenny Chesney's universally ignored debut with Capricorn Records in the early '90s. Back then, he was trying to break through as a tradition-rooted singer-songwriter, and content -- read: substance -- was more important than style. That didn't work, but despite his embrace of tropical rhythms and a ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Featuring the hit single "Never Wanted Nothin'," country superstar Kenny Chesney turns to some of Nashville's brightest songwriters for his first studio album in two years. The result is an intimate and uproarious collection.
Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Lost in the hubbub of his ascendancy to the apex of the country mainstream is the memory of Kenny Chesney's universally ignored debut with Capricorn Records in the early '90s. Back then, he was trying to break through as a tradition-rooted singer-songwriter, and content -- read: substance -- was more important than style. That didn't work, but despite his embrace of tropical rhythms and a pronounced boho image -- a poor man's Jimmy Buffett, if you will -- Chesney has tried to make his work durable and meaningful. He's never been so focused on the intangibles through the course of an album as he is on Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates. In well-crafted songs from a stable of reliable Nashville writers and outsiders (the latter being one Dwight Yoakam, whose "Wild Ride," featuring Joe Walsh on wacked-out wah-wah guitar, is a surefire crowd-pleaser), Chesney here contemplates some weighty matters, such as living in and savoring the moment ("Don't Blink"), the emptiness of stardom (the melancholy ballad "Wife and Kids"), the emotional toll of a shiftless life on the road (the bittersweet lament "Better as a Memory"), in subdued colors more appropriate to, well, a singer-songwriter than a mainstream heartthrob. The one song that summons the old tropicalia of albums past is a lilting, reggae-influenced treatise on workplace drudgery, "Shiftwork," which features an easygoing guest vocal by George Strait and the sort of agile wordplay Strait has made his own. The Poets and Pirates reference in the title is a bit recondite, but the Just Who I Am seems just right for a collection of songs that limn the defining, and largely unresolved, issues in one man's life.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
There's no denying that the title Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates, Kenny Chesney's tenth studio album, bears an undercurrent of autobiography, as if he's telling us exactly what he's all about. Given this, it would seem logical that this album would be built upon original songs -- especially since its title echoes Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair), his intimate 2005 album of originals -- but Just Who I Am has not one original song, when even its 2005 predecessor, The Road and the Radio, had a pair, including the very good "Beer in Mexico." Just Who I Am might not come from Chesney's pen, but these songs nevertheless have the appearance of being autobiographical, as they dwell upon teenage nostalgia, bittersweet memories, and the importance of family because life speeds by faster than you'd think. All of this gives the impression that Chesney is living a comfortable, familiar middle-aged existence, surrounded by his wife and kids, appreciating what he's got but looking back on his life with a fond eye. This isn't quite true -- Chesney is leaving his thirties without a wife and kids, which makes the number of songs celebrating close family feel a little odd (even if the song "Wife and Kids" finds Kenny pining for this close-knit family), since these are not songs about who Chesney is; they're about who is audience is. This carries over to his breezy, steel-drum island songs -- particularly the George Strait duet "Shiftwork," a mellow workingman's anthem where George and Kenny playfully soften the F in the title, making for a genuinely funny highlight -- right down to the arena-filling ballads, such as "Dancin' for the Groceries," an instant camp classic where Kenny looks sympathetically at a single mom stripping to support her kids (a kindness undercut by hammy, clumsy lyrics, epitomized by "in sequins and laces/she's dancing for braces"). These mawkish sentiments are heavy-handed, as are the arrangements in the power ballads, which are just slightly too clean and commercial, produced with an eye on the middle of the road. This measured, polished production does mean that the ballads, of which there are just a bit too many, do blend together unless they tend to go a little over the top, whether it's the seize-the-day sentiment of "Don't Blink" or that stripper-mom salute. Fortunately, then, Chesney does spend some time creating party songs for the islands, songs that may be just as calculated as the power ballads but at least are livelier, which make them more immediate and more lasting than the ballads, whether it's the cheerful morning-after memories of "Got a Little Crazy," a ridiculous Joe Walsh-driven version of Dwight Yoakam's rocker "Wild Ride," or "Shiftwork." That's not a whole lot of good times for an 11-track album, but when paired with the couple of light, midtempo cuts that have a little more snap -- such as the opener, "Never Wanted Nothing More" -- it does mean that Just Who I Am just manages from sinking into adult contemporary murk, even if it's hard to shake the feeling that Chesney is spending too much time acting how his audience expects him to be instead of just being who he is.
Entertainment Weekly - Whitney Pastorek
Just Who I Am reveals an artist ready and able to try something deeper. [B]

There's no denying that the title Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates, Kenny Chesney's tenth studio album, bears an undercurrent of autobiography, as if he's telling us exactly what he's all about. Given this, it would seem logical that this album would be built upon original songs -- especially since its title echoes Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair), his intimate 2005 album of originals -- but Just Who I Am has not one original song, when even its 2005 predecessor, The Road and the Radio, had a pair, including the very good "Beer in Mexico." Just Who I Am might not come from Chesney's pen, but these songs nevertheless have the appearance of being autobiographical, as they dwell upon teenage nostalgia, bittersweet memories, and the importance of family because life speeds by faster than you'd think. All of this gives the impression that Chesney is living a comfortable, familiar middle-aged existence, surrounded by his wife and kids, appreciating what he's got but looking back on his life with a fond eye. This isn't quite true -- Chesney is leaving his thirties without a wife and kids, which makes the number of songs celebrating close family feel a little odd (even if the song "Wife and Kids" finds Kenny pining for this close-knit family), since these are not songs about who Chesney is; they're about who is audience is. This carries over to his breezy, steel-drum island songs -- particularly the George Strait duet "Shiftwork," a mellow workingman's anthem where George and Kenny playfully soften the F in the title, making for a genuinely funny highlight -- right down to the arena-filling ballads, such as "Dancin' for the Groceries," an instant camp classic where Kenny looks sympathetically at a single mom stripping to support her kids (a kindness undercut by hammy, clumsy lyrics, epitomized by "in sequins and laces/she's dancing for braces"). These mawkish sentiments are heavy-handed, as are the arrangements in the power ballads, which are just slightly too clean and commercial, produced with an eye on the middle of the road. This measured, polished production does mean that the ballads, of which there are just a bit too many, do blend together unless they tend to go a little over the top, whether it's the seize-the-day sentiment of "Don't Blink" or that stripper-mom salute. Fortunately, then, Chesney does spend some time creating party songs for the islands, songs that may be just as calculated as the power ballads but at least are livelier, which make them more immediate and more lasting than the ballads, whether it's the cheerful morning-after memories of "Got a Little Crazy," a ridiculous Joe Walsh-driven version of Dwight Yoakam's rocker "Wild Ride," or "Shiftwork." That's not a whole lot of good times for an 11-track album, but when paired with the couple of light, midtempo cuts that have a little more snap -- such as the opener, "Never Wanted Nothing More" -- it does mean that Just Who I Am just manages from sinking into adult contemporary murk, even if it's hard to shake the feeling that Chesney is spending too much time acting how his audience expects him to be instead of just being who he is.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/11/2007
  • Label: Rca
  • UPC: 886971145724
  • Catalog Number: 711457
  • Sales rank: 30,097

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Never Wanted Nothing More (3:29)
  2. 2 Don't Blink (4:46)
  3. 3 Shiftwork (4:29)
  4. 4 Just Not Today (4:05)
  5. 5 Wife and Kids (4:23)
  6. 6 Got a Little Crazy (4:03)
  7. 7 Better as a Memory (4:12)
  8. 8 Dancin' for the Groceries (5:11)
  9. 9 Wild Ride (4:20)
  10. 10 Scare Me (4:14)
  11. 11 Demons (5:31)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Kenny Chesney Primary Artist, Vocals
Joe Walsh Electric Guitar
Eric Darken Percussion
John Williams [guitar] Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Gut String Guitar, Talk Box
Gary Prim Piano, Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer, Hammond B3
Mickey Raphael Harmonica
Bekka Bramlett Background Vocals
Pat Buchanan Electric Guitar
Buddy Cannon Background Vocals
Melonie Cannon Background Vocals
Jeff Coffin Tenor Saxophone
Dan Dugmore Steel Guitar
Chris Dunn Trombone
Sonny Garrish Dobro, Steel Guitar
Vince Gill Electric Guitar
Kenny Greenberg Electric Guitar
Rob Hajacos Fiddle
Tim Hensley Background Vocals
John Hobbs Piano, Keyboards
Jim Horn Baritone Saxophone
Paul Leim Percussion, Drums
Randy McCormick Synthesizer, Piano, Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Hammond B3
Jonell Mosser Background Vocals
Larry Paxton Bass, Acoustic Bass
Scott Vestal Banjo
John Willis Acoustic Guitar
Andrea Zonn Background Vocals
Jon Randall Background Vocals
Steve Herman Trumpet
Wyatt Beard Background Vocals
Mat Britain Steel Drums
Chris Stapleton Acoustic Guitar
William F. Bowman Acoustic Guitar
Paul Lein Drums
Jr. Quentin Ware Trumpet
Technical Credits
George Strait Duet
Dwight Yoakam Composer
Ronnie Bowman Composer
Buddy Cannon Producer, Audio Production
Butch Carr Engineer
Kenny Chesney Producer, Audio Production, Duet
Nathaniel Kunkel Engineer
Steve Marcantonio Engineer
Chris Rowe Engineer
David Lee Murphy Composer
Neil Thrasher Composer
Brett James Composer
Holly Gleason Publicity
Jon Randall Composer
Patrick Murphy Engineer
Wendell Mobley Composer
Tony Castle Engineer
Don Schlitz Composer
Casey Beathard Composer
Chris Wallin Composer
Katherine Stratton Art Direction
Joe Don Rooney Composer
Andrew Mendelson Mastering
Mel Eubanks Engineer
Judy Forde Blair Liner Notes, Creative Producer
Troy Jones Composer
Chris Stapleton Composer
Scooter Carusoe Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Kenny's done it again!

    I love this entire CD, but my favorite song is "Don't Blink". It really does remind you to appreciate what you have today and every day because time flies by before you know it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    i use to like kennys songs but there the same its like the same song every song it never ends

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Outstanding artist

    His songs all have meaning and have a habit of taking someone back in time to revisit old memories. I think he has a good variety of music.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2009

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    Posted October 29, 2008

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    Posted December 20, 2008

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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    Posted February 1, 2009

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    Posted November 2, 2008

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    Posted August 4, 2009

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews