Written by Kat Higgins, Adam James, and Brett James
All during this pandemic, I’ve been waiting for country music that reflected the trauma and loss our nation has suffered through, and all I’ve been getting are party songs. In a satisfying twist, the godfather of the modern country party song is the one who finally showed up with a song about grieving a loss.
Sure, it’s framed as a love gone bad song, but it hits differently because of what we’ve gone through over the past year, just like Brooks & Dunn’s “Only in America” and Diamond Rio’s “One More Day” did in the aftermath of 9/11.
I was an early advocate for Kenny Chesney, well before his No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems days. “Knowing You” is a nice reminder of what I liked about him so much back then. He can emote with deep empathy, and it’s good to hear him singing material that requires him to do so.
There aren’t nearly enough songs that explore this particular vein of loss, where the sadness of missing someone is intertwined with a deep appreciation for having them in your life for a period of time: “I was a kid on a carnival ride, holding my breath till the moment when you were gonna leave me too soon. But I’d do it all over, ’cause damn it was good knowing you.”
None of the modern trappings that undermine most modern country records are here. His voice doesn’t sound processed, and the gentle instrumentation of the verses is maintained for the chorus, rather than being washed away by the noisy instrumental bombast that mistakes sound and fury for emotional power.
It’s a satisfying late career moment from an artist approaching his thirtieth year of recording country music.