Kenny Chesney hits the brakes, hardly slows down

Kenny Chesney during the ESPY Awards on July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Photo by Chris Pizzello, Associated Press

Kenny Chesney during the ESPY Awards on July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Kenny Chesney during the ESPY Awards on July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Photo by Chris Pizzello

Kenny Chesney during the ESPY Awards on July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles.

— Near the end of last summer, Kenny Chesney figured he was done.

He was exhausted, his massive tour was nearing an end and he and producer Buddy Cannon had recorded and mixed a new album that was the final obstacle blocking him from off time. Chesney took a CD of the final mixes out of the studio to hear on his way back home.

“I put it in my CD player and listened, and I called Buddy back before he’d even left the studio,” the country star said. “I said, ‘There’s 11 songs on this album, but we’ve really only got four.’ I wanted so bad to be finished, but it was a moment where I had to do some soul-searching as an artist. The songs sounded good, but they were passionless, and I knew in my heart that we didn’t have it.”

And so they went back to work, and the “time off” Chesney pledged to take following his tour’s end in September became song searching and recording for much of the winter. It also involved meticulous work on a 3D film and on Boys of Fall, a documentary about football that aired in an hour-long version on ESPN and that will be released as a full-length DVD in November.

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