Monday, May 23, 2011

Turn it on / And turn it up / And sing along

This Here’s Country Music, Y’all

One could argue that ALL country music records are concept albums: the concept being some aspect of rural life featuring the traditional instruments one expects from this genre.

But one rarely actually comes across an album whose conception and execution is so single-minded as Brad Paisley’s new one, This Is Country Music. The title IS the concept: it serves as a primer on what modern country is and has been and can be: it not only looks backwards and to the sides, but straight ahead too. The Inky Jukebox would go so far as to say it’s a love song to country music.

A concept album doesn’t just consist of a dozen or so separate songs centered around a theme (at least, not good ones); they are like mini symphonies in which certain musical and lyrical themes are introduced and echoed throughout the album to a specific end. Here, the melody to the title track serves as the coda that appears throughout. Because the title track is called “This Is Country Music,” it also acts as a chapter heading and neon signpost to indicate that THIS is what he’s talking about.

One can imagine the initial discussions for the architecture of this album: a list of several obvious topics or types of songs that exemplify the genre. If you look at the finished product, you can spot them, right down to the traditional spiritual “Life’s Railway To Heaven.”

Any Brad Paisley album can be broken down into two distinct parts for review: instrumental and technical virtuosity, and lyrical wittiness. (OK; his instrumental album is simply the former.) This album is no exception. Each song is meticulously crafted to present a new take on an old topic: what guys like to do; shit happens; how to love your wife; wishing you were an inanimate object a lady uses, etc. (See "Ticks.")

Paisley has created a niche for himself by singing about manly subjects with humor; “Camouflage” is this record’s nod to the yak-it-up song. He’s also pretty handy with a duet — here, the probable future single “Remind Me” with Carrie Underwood (with whom he has enjoyed excellent duets before) is a standout. Currently, the album is being promoted with his single “Old Alabama” which is a double-entendre made much of in his video, referring not only to the legendary band, but the state too. (Look closely for Brad's many cameos.)

Kicking the whole she-bang off was the title track, whose glorious back-end is a list of country songs any self-respecting music fan will know. It sounds like it was a fun song to write, and this can be said of all the songs, as the lyrics make sense in a simple and straightforward way.

Because this is Brad Paisley, Guitar God, he does include an instrumental track, cleverly titled “Eastwood,” featuring the man himself. It sounds like a Spaghetti Western, ha ha.

Even though this album could be the playlist for demonstrating what country music is, The Inky Jukebox would still like to sit around with all of those vinyl records scattered around on the floor, the needle on the record player getting plenty of action playing a bit of THIS and THIS and OH WAIT — THIS!

Paisley was set to kick off this year’s new tour at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, which would have been excellent as it’s sort of his hometown stadium, but alas, the gig was cancelled abruptly with no explanation and no particular date for when the “postponed” show will be re-scheduled (much to The Inky Jukebox’s dismay and disappointment.) His H2O tour of last year was one of the season’s highlights; the man truly earned his title of Entertainer of the Year.

In the meantime, we will have to be content with the record. He says it best:

It ain’t hip to sing about tractors, trucks
little towns, and mama
yeah that might be true.

But this is country music 
and we do.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome, y'all