Kenny Chesney’s 11th studio disc is another sure hit, said Alison Bonaguro
in the Chicago Tribune. Chesney has been sticking to his tried-and-true formula for years: “a few ballads about counting your blessings, a few up-tempo rockers about hard work, a couple big-name guests, and voilà. Album-of-the-year contender.” Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates plays to Chesney’s strengths as a singer, but leaves him out entirely as songwriter, depending instead on a roster of Nashville hitmakers for tunes and lyrics. Certainly the songs Chesney wrote himself have been highlights of his past albums, said Sarah Rodman in The Boston Globe. But he’s equally proficient at “finding different components of himself in the words and music of others.” As usual, we get glimpses of “fun Kenny,” the shirtless, shoeless, beach-party host, on tracks such as “Go a Little Crazy” and “Wild Ride.” We also spend time with “blue-collar Kenny,” your clock-punching buddy on “Shiftwork.” But as he ages, we’re also seeing a lot more of “mature Kenny,” the guy who’ll tell you about his vices on “Demons” and get nostalgic with a senior citizen on “Don’t Blink.” Introspection is a fairly new angle “from the guy who broke through with a song titled ‘She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,’” said Preston Jones in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But at 39, it’s about time that he put down that margarita and got serious.