After the decidedly introspective Songs for the Saints, Kenny Chesney gears up for his first true Blue Chair/Warner Music Nashville project with the release of “Tip of My Tongue,” a decidedly grown up song from the man who Variety called “country music’s only long-term stadium act.” With its sweeping groove and an almost humid melody lift, “Tip of My Tongue” merges desire and connection over a figure of speech in a classic songwriting technique.
Having spent the first half of the year taking the music to the people, focusing on the markets that have not been part of his massive stadium tours, his Songs for the Saints Tour reconnected him to a whole other segment of his audience. With a short break to recalibrate his focus, the man hailed by The New York Times for music that “gives him heroic, wide-open spaces” and USA Today has cited “its whirl of dizzy romance, of love in its intoxicating inception” is at work with longtime co-producer Buddy Cannon recording what will be his first real album for his new home.
“It’s funny how a figure of speech can lead you to all kinds of places,” Chesney marvels. “You start talking, and words fall out, and anything can happen. When you go in and write on any given day, the chemistry is what it is. When the idea fell out, we all just laughed and went, ‘Well, what can we do with that?’
“I’ve written so much with Ross (Copperman), that’s always easy. He brought Ed (Sheeran) in, and he is such a great writer… The way creativity works in creative people is so different, but it’s always exciting. As a co-write with a new writer, it’s one of the most fun sessions I’ve done in a long time. I get why people love working with him.”
For Chesney, signed to a publishing deal with Acuff Rose before Phil Walden put him on the relaunched Capricorn, songs have always been his strongest currency. Whether “The Tin Man,” an early hit from his very first album, the surging “Beer In Mexico,” “Out Last Night” and “Keg In The Closet” which musically time-stamps moments of pure joy, the explosive protest “Noise,” reflective “I Go Back” or Rascal Flatt’s No. 1 “Take Me There,” as well as the female-empowering “Wild Child,” his writing maintains a standard and presses what a country song can be.
“With all the great songs that have been written in this town, I think you always want to do something a little different,” Chesney explains. “I think there’s this moment when you look at someone and you know they contain everything. You want to know everything, consume everything about them. It’s why we say ‘It’s a long way down,’ because you want to know it all. And the best part: we got a melody that feels like what’s going on lyrically. The music matches the words, and you can just drift in it.”
From a quiet, almost watery open, “Tip of My Tongue” builds to a full-bodied chorus with layered vocals, muted bass, keyboards and a rhythm track that balances the tension of the quiet vocal-forward verses. Like tides rising and falling, a consuming back and forth to the track, which turns on the tumbling profession “It’s a long way down,” before finding the contrasting attraction of “I love you salt and sugar…”