Thankfully, back in print, License To Chill is the easy going singer/songwriter's 2004 album that took the music world by storm, landing on the #1 spot on Billboard's Top 200 and Country charts. This release, Buffett's first true Country album, features contributions from Country stars including Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Marina McBride, George Strait, Clint Black, and Nanci Griffith. 16 tracks.
Country music's infatuation with the puka-shell rock of Jimmy Buffett has been one of the genre's less fortunate indulgences. Most of Nashville's hat acts do little more than dip their toe in the water and do nothing to build upon Buffett's signature sounds. That's why License to Chill, which features a plethora of Music City guests (Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Clint Black, George Strait, Martina McBride, Toby Keith) along with Bill Withers and Nanci Griffith, seems like a bad idea. But the album, on which the Key West hedonist performs his favorite "bar gig" songs, as he calls them, often delights. As someone who began his songwriting career in Nashville (and who's also recorded more than half his albums there), Buffett isn't just slumming, as his choice of covers (from such writers as Guy Clark, John Hiatt, Hank Williams, and Jerry Garcia) proves. What could have been little more than a lark, then, ends up being a showcase for Buffett the serious songwriter and song finder. Although he does indulge in the occasional beach-minded thong-writing, Chill is a surprisingly satisfying album aimed less at the Parrothead crowd and more toward an audience who remembers the Buffett of 30 years ago, a man who struggled to make his mark among Nashville's most revered tunesmiths. --Alanna Nash
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