Rolling Stone, New York Times, USA Today + More Acclaim
Kennys New Album To Benefit U.S. + British Virgin Islands Rebuilding
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It came from his heart, fueled by the anxiety of waiting and watching as the Caribbean islands where he makes his home were battered by Hurricane Irma, then Maria. For Kenny, Songs for the Saints wasnt an album created for hit singles or critical acclaim, but to process his own emotions and to let the people on the islands known as the Saints know they were not only not forgotten, but their spirit was being held up as a source of inspiration.
It was as pure, in the moment of creation, as anything Ive ever been involved in, says the man who just broke Billboards record for most No. 1s on the Country Airplay Chart with Saints lead track Get Along. All these emotions needed somewhere to go, but the more I thought about the islands and the people who live there, their spirit and the way they face these unknowns, the more I thought this music should show the world that resilience.
Kennys not the only one thinking about Songs for the Saints. Less than a week after its release, some of the nations most important publications have already weighed in. ABC News Radio called it, the eye of the storm, New Yorks Newsday offered Kennys finding inspiration and purpose in catastrophe and The Miami Herald deemed it, Kennys most thoughtful and rewarding album since Hemingways Whiskey in 2010.
Rolling Stone raved Saints maps a cycle of grief and despair transformed into healing and resilience, while USA Today assessed it as a singer/songwriter project driven by vulnerability and determination and The Chicago Tribune noted, a thoughtful, mostly acoustic-driven release that resonates with love and renewal. The New York Times lead critic Jon Pareles looked into the actual music, offering, Everything country music learned from arena rock is in the mix …the music gives him heroic, wide-open spaces.
With a three-page spread in this weeks PEOPLE, the man whos currently rocking 50,000-plus on the 19-stadium part of his Trip Around the Sun Tour is going deep to consider what the devastation meant, how hes helping the islands face the future and how it made his music mean even more. Last weeks three-page Entertainment Weekly profile also took in the inspiration for Songs for the Saints, calling it, …a love letter to the resilience of those living in the Caribbean. Suffused with acoustic guitars, steel drums, and wistful melodies, the record is both buoyant and melancholy.
Its been mind-blowing to see some of the people who got it, Kenny says. These are the toughest critics, and they see the soul of the record, why it mattered. Ive spoken to NPR, Robin Roberts on Good Morning America and Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show and seeing those places that dont always embrace mainstream country music embrace this album shows how music can and does bring people together. Since all the money is going to the relief fund, them spreading the word helps in ways most people dont even realize. Heres to the songs, the writers, the players and always the people of the Saints.