The latest from clean livin' Telecaster master Paisley, featuring guest star William...
Chris Jones 2005
Brad Paisley perfectly encapsulates the dichotomy of modern Nashville. Here's a man who's a consummate, clean cut professional - playing guitar since the age of 6 and playing major dates since he was 12 - and yet working within a genre that concerns itself with tales of drunkenness, divorce and disrepute.
Despite Mindy McCready's recent attempts to single-handedly resurrect the spirits of Hank and Patsy, long gone are the days when country stars were living embodiments of their songs; make no mistake, Music City is as corporate and slick as LA. So how does Brad get around this contradiction and keep flying the traditionalist flag? Easy; with well-crafted songs chock-full of his patent brand of humour and playing that simply beggars belief.
By now, if you're remotely familiar with Paisley, you'll know that he can strip paint with his Telecaster wrangling. Again he takes James Burton's Bakersfield template and makes it go stratospheric. And his band are no slouches either. Instrumental "Time Warp" is a textbook demonstration of how these boys can handle anything from jazz to bluegrass without drawing breath.
But this isn't just an exercise in empty flash. Paisley's solos never overstay their welcome and as with all great Nashville artists, the song remains king. Sure, Brad's writing comes with the requisite dollop of country cheese (cf. "When I Get Where I'm Going" with the ubiqituous Dolly Parton), but it's always leavened with a smile.
Unlike his last album, Mud On The Tires,the jokes are reined in a little which allows the laughs to come easier on tracks like "Alcohol", "Out In the Parking Lot" (with Alan Jackson - another polished new traditionalist) and "You Need A Man Around Here". But he can do serious well too, especially on the lovely tearjerker "Rainin' You". It's not a perfect mix (let's gloss over the dumb 'bonus' track with William Shatner) but as far as the cream of mainstream country goes, this is as good as it gets.