Paisley’s country exclamation

(Jeremy Cowart)
May 23, 2011

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The title of Brad Paisley’s new CD might be read as taking a stand (as in, “this is country music, and that other crap ain’t’’). But the song of the same name, which opens the record, quickly dispels that notion, even as it proffers a list of archetypal country song titles, not one of them under 30 years old. The sentiment here isn’t prescriptive but descriptive, in the self-referential manner that frequents today’s country —“It ain’t hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns, or momma/ yeah, that might be true/ But this is country music, and we do.’’ The song encapsulates Paisley’s status as a premier upholder of traditional country within a contemporary framework, and the 15 songs that follow confirm that status. The usual elements of the Paisley mix are all here in force: domestic snapshots (“New Favorite Memory,’’ “Toothbrush’’), novelty fare (“Camouflage’’), fair-to-maudlin numbers (“Love Her Like She’s Leaving’’), a quick dip into country-pop (“Remind Me,’’ an overwrought duet with Carrie Underwood), and guitar pyrotechnics (everywhere, but especially the surf-music approximations of “Working on a Tan’’ and the western instrumental “Eastwood,’’ which features a way-cool whistling cameo from the man it’s named for). And as the album winds down, along come two hard-core shots: the pounding honky-tonk shuffle of “Don’t Drink the Water’’ and the unalloyed bluegrass gospel of “Life’s Railway to Heaven.’’ Yes, this is country music.


ESSENTIAL “Don’t Drink the Water’’

Paisley appears at the Comcast Center on July 16.