I've really got to hand it to Kenny Chesney. After his first appearance on the charts seventeen years ago, he's constantly reinvented himself: first just another young hat act in an era overstuffed with them, then a sturdy mainstream artist, then a party-hearty beach bum. And over the past three years, he's reinvented himself once again into a mellow balladeer with soft, often introspective tunes such as "Don't Blink," "Better as a Memory," "Down the Road" and "I'm Alive." And even amid all the balladry, he still finds time to add a little tempo, as he does on "Somewhere with You."
Co-written by Shane McAnally and J.T. Harding, this song is equal parts mellow and urgent in its tale of a former lover that just won't leave the narrator's mind. He starts off assertively with the simple yet effective line "If you're going out with someone new / I'm going out with someone too" then reveals that even when he's getting drunk, he'd still much rather be with her. The song switches from mid-tempo to rapid-fire quite smoothly, as he recalls the fun that they used to have together. And just when the tempo slows back down, the heartache is both heard and felt on lines such as "But it's just a temporary high 'cause when I close my eyes / I'm somewhere with you." It's the interesting use of contrast that gives this song a little extra kick.
I never thought I would say it, but Kenny Chesney is probably one of my favorite artists on the airwaves right now. Instead of just coasting by on tuneful radio fodder, he's somehow managed to maintain his A-list status through interesting, inspired songs. (Covering "Down the Road" alone gives him several points in my book.) "Somewhere with You" is yet another fine example of his continued artistic evolution, and given his track record, it should easily have yet another rapid climb to Number One.
Click here to read the album review for Hemingway's Whiskey.