Brad Paisley. One of country music’s biggest stars explores new grounds. He goes places he, and perhaps any other country artists have been. This is new and original material, with Paisley’s signature style: sparkling guitar playing and compelling stories. This is ”Wheelhouse”.
After 11 months of hard work, Paisley can sit back and release his new album with pride. This is the first time he’s produced an album, and he has written or co-written all the tracks on the album. The result is an album where Paisley shows all of sides. You’ll hear funny stories about partying out in a field, to more serious stories about slavery and home violence.
The fact that Paisley produced himself, has had a great impact on the result. First of all, he chose to build his own home studio in one of the farmhouse’s on his property (which turned out to be more difficult than they had expected; the farmhouse was actually infested by skunks for a longer period of time, and it was impossible to work in the studio). The advantage however, has been that he got to work whenever he wanted (preferably when his creativity was at peak), and do things the way he wanted. For example he chose to use his own band to record in the studio, which is actually quite unusual in the music industry.
For those who think they know what to expect from Paisley’s ninth studio album “Wheelhouse”, think again. With as many as 21 tracks, the album has great guest performances by Dierks Bentley, LL Cool J, Eric Idle, Hunter Hayes and Charlie Daniels, and all of them perform their part exemplary.
Since the album is very varied, I decided to give a little review of each song:
Evaluated from 1 (worst) – 6 (best)
Bon Voyage: (too short for evaluation)
Is a musical intro that lasts 20 seconds. You get to hear the outro of ”How Ya Gonna ’Em Down On The Farm” by Arthur Fields, from the year 1919.
Southern Comfort Zone: 5
Is the foundation of the album, and explains why you have to leave your comfort zone to appreciate what you have. Is the first single of the album and Paisley’s 21 #1 hit.
Beat This Summer: 4
Is about those warm days in the summer when you’re thinking there may never be a summer to compare. A special song that basically proves that the rulebook was thrown out the window under the recording of this album. Will definitely become a hit in the summer, but unfortunately it doesn’t reach up to the 20 other songs on the album. It’s the second single of the album.
Outstanding In Our Field: 5
A fun and lively song about partying out in the country. Obviously inspired by the song “Dang Me” by Roger Miller, from the year 1964. Just reaches up to a five, mainly because of the guest performances by Dierks Bentley and Hunter Hayes on guitar.
Pressing On A Bruise: 4
This song has an interesting concept. It’s about a person who cannot let go of his love, even though he knows it’s the best thing to do. His buddy tells him that, yes, you have to let her go. Ends up as a nice “duet” between Paisley and Mat Kearney, one of Nasville’s few pop artists.
I Can’t Change The World: 5
A beautiful love song that you’ll find yourself humming to, especially in the chorus. Paisley chooses acoustic this time, and together with an amazing vocal performance it works brilliantly!
Onryo / 幽女: 3
Is what you can call a intro for the following track. Does not impress much because it isn’t something special. This instrumental in 1 minute and 39 seconds, could just have been a solo. Can not be compared with any of Paisley’s other instrumental’s like “Nervous Breakdown” and “Turf’s Up”.
An energetic song about a strong subject, home violence. Paisley manages to, with signature guitar playing and humorous lyrics, tell the story about a woman being beaten by her husband, but finally manages to stand up for herselves by taking karate courses. Charlie Daniels contributes as a «commentator» during the fight in the song.
Death of a Married Man: (too short for evaluation)
Intro for the following song, ”Harvey Bodine».
Harvey Bodine: 5
A humoristic song about a man who dies, but is revived after five minutes; to his great disappointment. The man does obviously not have a good relationship with his wife and tries to convince lawyers and priests that “till death do us part” should sever the marriage. Basically a really funny song that is typical Paisley’s humor.
Tin Can On A String: 6
A beautiful ballad about lonesome love. The fact that they haven’t used any digital tools to edit Paisley’s voice during the entire album is quite evident here. It makes the song much more powerful and raw, and you hear the strain of his voice. Simply beautiful
Death of a Single Man: 4
A calm and blues-like song. It makes me think of the Toy Story for some reason. If you’re looking for similar songs, like the ones from “A Brad Paisley Christmas” this is the song for you.
The Mona Lisa: 5
Paisley was inspired to write this song when he was in Paris and saw the painting Mona Lisa. What he thought was that the happiest frame in the world must be the one that holds the Mona Lisa. He tells that he is honored and happy because he gets to be the “frame” for the love of his life. Has definitely the album’s catchiest hook.
Accidental Racist: 6
The song almost everyone in the US has talked about in the last 24 hours. A song with powerful lyrics about the segregation that was present in the southern states of the US in the 1800s. Paisley has received a lot of criticism for this song, but also a lot of praise for writing the song. In my opinion it’s definitely one of the best songs on the album, because it’s a concept I’ve never seen before. Paisley and LL Cool J who raps in this son, has done an outstanding job showing that the conflict is over and that we have to forgive each other. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same view on the message of the song.
Runaway Train: 6
You can’t make a Country album without referring to trains at least one time, right?
An up-tempo song that has “Brad Paisley” written all over it!!
Those Crazy Christians: 5
Paisley is a Christian himself, but this time he has chosen to write from a non-believer’s point of view. A very calm and beautiful song with an ironic undertone in which he tells about the Christian’s “crazy” traditions.
Officially Alive: 6
Is clearly unlike anything we’ve heard by Paisley before, but you still hear his signature guitar playing. Uplifting song confirming that this album is more like a project than a collection.
Yankee Doodle Dixie [Bonus Track]: 4
Nice little medley. Completely unedited and uncut song.
Facebook Friends [Bonus Track]: 5
How many love songs have you heard where the story has been built around Facebook? Well, Paisley has done just that. Creativity at its highest level!
Get Even [Bonus Track]: 5
This track would fit well in one of the older albums. what I’m trying to say is: Paisley is back on familiar ground. A song with humor, tempo and a wonderful guitar solo.
Southern Comfort Zone (Acoustic) [Bonus Track]: 5
Beautiful acoustic song that closes the album just the way it began; with Southern Comfort Zone.
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