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Life on a Rock ()

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Life on a Rock follows its 2012 predecessor Welcome to the Fishbowl quickly -- very quickly, appearing a mere ten months later. Why did Chesney rush out this record? It could be a tacit acknowledgment that Chesney wasn't entirely engaged on Welcome to the Fishbowl, an album that was thoroughly professional not only in its production but in its construction: Chesney barely wrote a thing on the record, choosing to slide into the role of superstar singer, acting like a rock star and living under a spotlight. It was fine but slight, somewhat lost in its own gleaming reflection, leaving little lasting impression. Life on a Rock is similarly light but it's not overly polished. It's breezy, music made for an afternoon at the beach -- a return to the sun-and-sand anthems that Chesney has had as a sideline for about a decade now. At times, he accentuates his good times in the sun just a bit too heavily, inviting the Wailers in so they can give "Spread the Love" a genuine reggae bounce and also writing an ode to "Marley" somewhat in the vein of Eric Church's "Springsteen," but this is the mildest form of overreaching; he's trying just a little bit too hard to chill out. Apart from that, Life on a Rock flows sweetly and easily, the tunes gently drifting between strummed ballads and shimmering low-key pop, with the opening song (and first single) "Pirate Flag" being the only song here with a hard pulse. Chesney never sounds like he's trying too hard but, the thing of it is, he wrote all but three of the songs here, so this represents a considerable uptick in effort from its predecessor. That effort pays off: this feels fuller, richer than any Chesney album in recent memory, but it's also unhurried and light, an ideal soundtrack for a long, lazy summer. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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