The Big Revival

The Big Revival

The “Big” in The Big Revival can be taken very literally. The 2014 album underlines Kenny Chesney’s ability to pivot back and forth between moods as his muse demands. On his previous release, 2013’s Life on a Rock, Chesney had gone deeper into his Jimmy Buffett-influenced “Gulf & Western” side than ever, turning out easygoing, acoustic-laced, small-scale tunes full of unassuming beach-vacation vibes. Then he turned around and did the complete opposite. By this point, a dash of arena rock had long been an ingredient in Chesney’s cookbook. He didn’t turn to it all the time, but when he did, it felt like a totally natural choice. And The Big Revival is nothing if not Chesney’s arena-rock album. Country is still a key component, but this is a sonically massive record on which mile-high guitar riffs carom off of sledgehammer snare hits swathed in epic amounts of reverb. It’s no coincidence that in addition to some downright nasty licks that could make Aerosmith jealous, “Rock Bottom” includes shout-outs to the Marshall stack and Back in Black. That’s not the entire story. Chesney was in too mercurial a mood to devote the entirety of an album to a single musical mode. So besides cinematic power ballads like “Til It’s Gone” and “Save It for a Rainy Day,” The Big Revival’s biggest hits include smaller-scale, acoustic-friendly tunes like “Wild Child” (a duet with Grace Potter that follows up on the 2010 Chesney/Potter team-up “You and Tequila”) and “American Kids.” But even when Chesney gets into an earthier feel and cozies up to some mandolin picking and down-home imagery on “Beer Can Chicken,” there are still industrial-size power chords galore amid all the Americana. Chesney had been a superstar a dozen times over by this point, so he had nothing to prove to anybody, and he felt no compunction about completely flipping the script from his previous album when the music moved him.

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