The reigning entertainer of the year for both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music continues on the road to great success with 11 new songs that drive straight down the center line of contemporary power country.
He revs up his smooth baritone for a solid mix of ballads and uptempo stuff that concentrates on ordinary things and events, into which he looks hard and deep to make them seem extraordinary in both their meaning and effect.
He makes the simple pleasure of sitting and drinking a beer into a life-altering experience with "Beer In Mexico." On the title track, his introspective musings leap out with conviction as he merely drives his car and listens to the radio.
Chesney has mastered the fine art of getting listeners to identify with his creations by keeping the lyrics unadorned and meaningful, yet bathing them in delightful melodies, often laid-back as the mood requires.
The melancholy and gorgeous "Who You'd Be Today" ponders the simple joys of living that were not meant to be for someone whose life was cut short.
The loping "Tequila Loves Me," full of drinking excuses for the truly heartbroken, is enough to make you thirsty for a margarita.
- KEN ROSENBAUM
Tyrell creates a disc that is at once familiar and fresh. The arrangements fit the moods of the songs just right, adding pizzazz when needed, or toning down for a rich and romantic musical setting. The collection includes "I Get A Kick Out Of You," "Fly Me To The Moon," "In The Wee Small Hours," "Night and Day," and "All of Me." Of course, with so many Sinatra songs to choose from, there may be quibbles about the selections Tyrell has made. But to those he picked, he gives his own, personal stamp, ensuring that the Sinatra standards are appreciated all over again.
- RICHARD PATON
Vocalist/pianist Michael Feinstein is one of the nation's most serious music archivists in addition to being an international recording artist himself. On this album, he teams up with jazz pianist George Shearing for a warm and loving tribute to the prolific Harry Warren, an unsung hero of the music world whose impressive body of work was often overshadowed by that of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and George and Ira Gershwin. Feinstein's pitch-perfect voice, gentle pacing, and rich-but-melancholy tone, coupled with Shearing's subtle touches, bring images of grand pianos and candlelight.
- TOM HENRY
Nicholson's sound is a hybrid of soul, pop, a little country, and '70s-era folk, and for the most part it works. He is a multi-instrumentalist most comfortable on the keys so "Sump'm" is suffused with organ and keyboard work, giving it a '70s sound similar to that of Leon Russell or the Doobie Brothers. Tracks like "Love is Alright" and "Take Me Back" are contemporary versions of the kind of music you heard on the radio all the time 35 years ago. That's a good thing sometimes, but it also leads to quickly establishing an over-familiarity with the songs. You may not have heard these specific tunes before, but you've heard a lot of tracks that sound similar.
- ROD LOCKWOOD