Brad Paisley raises bar with 'This Is Country Music'
Brad Paisley's albums can be a bit of a jumble. A multitalented entertainer bursting with novel ideas, he often bounces like a hyperactive kid from heartbreak songs to wacky novelties to finger-blistering instrumentals and back.
Here, though, Paisley provides himself just enough of a theme to keep him in check. If you're going to call an album This Is Country Music (**** out of four), you not only set a high standard for yourself, but you better not give anybody a reason to disagree. Paisley delivers with an album that's both steeped in the past and looking for ways to grow.
Paisley reunites the members of Alabama in a song that extols the virtues of that group's music, and he sings duets with current stars Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton. He doesn't shy away from devastating anguish or cornball humor. He draws on bluegrass, gospel and honky-tonk traditions and also incorporates influences of surf guitar and Beach Boys-style harmonies (Working on a Tan) and Ennio Morricone instrumentals (Eastwood, named after Clint Eastwood, who whistles its melody).
In the end, maybe the best thing one can say about This Is Country Music is that it lives up to its title as well as any album in recent memory. If you're a fan of that music, what more do you need?