Review: ‘This Is Country Music’ by Brad Paisley

jason stives brings the first piece of country music to pop-break …

In country music, Brad Paisley is much like the perfect presidential candidate. He has all the qualities that fit what you want but everyone else chooses the bigger and less truthful person for the job. For many reasons, Paisley is the ideal modern country artist and a sincere song writer at best. On the title track of his new album This Is Country Music, he speaks of the unhip nature that comes with singing about the rural American past times of telling off your boss and drinking a cold one, but he is not the least bit ashamed, and that is the essence of the album.

After the stars and stripes forever flashiness that came with his 2009 release American Saturday Night, This Is Country Music has its footing on identifying the importance of actuality and never being the bit ashamed of where you come from — common themes from a singer that is easily “the common man” of successful country artists.

There is a lot to be said in the way Paisley, and for that matter, most country artists paint a picture in a song. While many musicians in various genres shadow lyrics with metaphor, you can’t get any deeper and blunt than a song like “One Of Those Lives,” which couples sweating the small stuff with a story of a couple with a cancer-stricken child (surprisingly, Paisley points out earlier on in the album how uncool it is to mention cancer in a song — well played).

There aren’t just those sad facts of life he is telling you in some songs, because other times he is poking at the farce of being a beach towel under a hot chick on a song like “Be The Lake.” But even THEN, there is the heartache of longing on songs like “Remind Me” and “Love Her Like She’s Leaving” that bring you back to those moments you still want to have with that special someone but aren’t too sure how to recreate.

“Camouflage,” on the other hand, acts as a great send-up to those who have never heard the word formal in their life taking things like the prom picture and the first car and turning them into a rebellious display. Elsewhere, you have the song “Toothbrush” which falls into the Picasso’s last words category of a song made out of just anything. Using the common bathroom hygienic tool as where all of life’s moments start out, it lyrically and musically feels like a coffee ad, except I’m buying what Mr. Paisley is selling.

Unlike reclusive country music giant Garth Brooks, Paisley fills This Is Country Music with his friends in very high places. From Blake Shelton on the lost weekend, Montezuma’s revenge warning of “Don’t Drink The Water” to the surprising narrative lead from the great Clint Eastwood on the aptly titled “Eastwood” — there is no shame in including those who you know. It’s also on “Eastwood” that Paisley displays the all empowering ability he has as a guitarist with blistering finger picking through a galloping The Good, The Bad And The Ugly-like melody that would even make Ennio Morricone consider scoring the show Justified.

Noting the country clichés and the sometimes non-flattering subjects of certain tracks you would think there is more to parody on this album then there is to enjoy and appreciate. You’re wrong. Brad Paisley shows he will welcome any joke with a poke back full of enriching storytelling and the twangy burn rubber effect of his telecaster. Outside of the defense, there is the message and the importance. This Is Country Music ultimately advices you never to take life too serious, ham it up with the silly things, but take into your heart the importance of the things you do.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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