The Critics, the Context, the Connection of Here And Now
Entertainment Weekly, Variety, American Songwriter, People Weigh In
By now, Kenny Chesney has made it abundantly clear that not only does he make his albums for the people, but Here And Now was created with his iconic No Shoes Nation in mind. With his Platinum-certified Live in No Shoes Nation demonstrating the roar of Chesney’s voracious fan base, the songwriter/superstar from East Tennessee has always worked to capture the songs that will speak to the heart of people living lives between the coasts, dreaming dreams and figuring out how to have the most passion possible wherever they are.
With Here And Now becoming his ninth No. 1 Billboard all-genre Top 200 Albums release – a feat that ties him with the Rolling Stones, Drake, Madonna, Garth Brooks and Kanye West, his physical sales show a fanbase who desire ownership of that piece of the music that binds them together. With HITS reporting a total of 233,841 units, Chesney maintains the momentum begun with 2002’s No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, his first Top 200 debut, which sold just north of 235,000 copies.
“It’s not about the numbers or the stats,” Chesney says, “it’s about No Shoes Nation. Even as times change, they want the music – and I want to get it to them however we can. There was talk of delaying the album release, but with everything else in the world being so unknown, I felt strongly about getting Here And Now to the people in No Shoes Nation. If there’s one thing that holds us all together, it’s the songs – and I had songs on this record I knew they’d take to heart. To me, that’s why we do this.”
Entertainment Weekly agreed, citing the album’s “romantic wistfulness and regret, battles between rootlessness and structure, a longing to go somewhere, anywhere, everywhere else but also to sit right here with you... Here And Now feels more like a balm for a pandemic-battered soul than a taunt for what cannot be right now,” while The New York Times singled out the tension of “You Don’t Get To” alongside tracks from Haim, Oasis and Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé.
Variety recognized another duality, “clearly designed for Chesney fans to shout 70,000 strong… Here And Now is a strangely satisfying album for this particular moment in time,” as People embraced Chesney’s expansive musical reach, “He continues to slyly nod at other genres...” and American Songwriter drilled down on his roots with “the smelling salts clarity of how good simple country music sounds... seeking quality songs that sound like real people wrote them out of a life lived instead of calculating jingles in three hour increments.”
With a Facebook Live launch that brought together several of the album’s songwriters, questions from across the country and viewers from around the world, the focus was on the songs and the people who love them. Chesney marvels, “I know people who stayed up in Italy, boat captains in Ireland, obviously my friends from the islands, Canada, Mexico, France, because they wanted to be part of this very unique, a little bit loose moment where we sent the album into the world.
“I don’t churn out product so I have something new for the tour,” he continues. “I work really hard to give No Shoes Nation songs that feel like what we should be talking about, things that matter more than just a party, even when they feel like a party – and having John Esposito and Warner Music Nashville believing in this conversation as much as I do, well, it shows in the way they believed and got a lot of physical music to the people who really wanted those albums.”
With more Billboard Country No. 1s than anyone, Chesney has created a stadium-filling career by speaking to the heart of America. The only country artist in Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years, the eight-time Entertainer of the Year continues pushing himself to create a stronger connection with the lives he’s been creating a soundtrack for over the last 18 years.