Kenny Chesney The Road and the RadioBNA Music ••• Sound •••
Big $ Rich Comin' To Your CityWarner Bros. Music •• Sound •••
You can't begrudge Kenny Chesney his country-superstar status. His slow but steady rise to the top has made the genial performer a role model for Nashville's touring/recording work ethic. Still, there's only so much musical comfort food you can take without hankering for something spicy. And that's especially problematic on The Road and the Radio, since Chesney alludes to a menu different from the one on the table. "Living in Fast Forward" talks about a "hillbilly rock star out of control," and "You Save Me" says he's getting "all wild-eyed and crazy" - yet nothing sounds remotely edgy. He's better served by lighter fare like "Summertime," which references Yoo-hoo and a "sip of wine." Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course ... especially given the alternative, as depicted by Big $ Rich on Comin' to Your City, their follow-up to 2004's surprise hit debut, Horse of a Different Color. After years of kicking around Music City, songwriters (Big) Kenny Alphin and John Rich struck paydirt by turning country into a cartoon, such as "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)." This time around, unfortunately, they don't come off nearly as clever as they think they are. And once you realize they're mostly recycling 1970s pop (the Blue Swede-ish "Soul Shaker," the "Fly, Robin, Fly"-like "Jalapeño") . . . well, I'd rather listen to old Dr. Hook records than these "rebel" yellers.