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Wheelhouse

Brad Paisley

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Album Review

If Brad Paisley signaled a tentative stylistic retreat via the title of 2011's This Is Country Music, the name of its 2013 sequel, Wheelhouse, is a fake-out. By no means is he returning to familiar territory here; he's stepping far outside his "Southern Comfort Zone," as Paisley puts it on the record's first single. There, he admits how he misses his Tennessee home but he's seen the ways he's grown and never would have seen the world without leaving what he already knew, a kind of self-evident truth that passes for a major revelation in the polarized world of 2013, where residents of both red and blue states are very happy within the confines of their county. Paisley has taken it upon himself to narrow the gap between city and country and, in that sense, Wheelhouse in general and "Southern Comfort Zone" in particular are cousins of sorts to his multi-cultural paean "American Saturday Night," only blown up to an international scale. Throughout the album, Paisley finds something to celebrate in every little corner of the world, or at the very least, the countries where his career has taken him. He titles an instrumental in Chinese, he writes a very English character sketch in "Harvey Bodine" (shades of the Kinks, or even Blur's "Ernold Same"), the Mona Lisa moves him to write a love song, and he rhapsodizes about "Karate," which a battered woman uses to exact revenge on her abuser. "Karate" is one of those tricky juggling acts Paisley pulls off with grace; another is "Those Crazy Christians," where he admires faith while harboring doubts of his own, never taking potshots at those who believe — but there are times on Wheelhouse where Paisley simply has too many balls in the air and they're destined to fall. They come crashing down on "Accidental Racist," a well-intentioned attempt to get good ol' boys to reconsider the perspective of African-Americans undone by on-the-nose lyrics by Paisley and guest rapper LL Cool J, whose presence is simultaneously admirable and heavy-handed. Other odd grace notes abound, ranging from the too-dense spoken sample collage and "Dixie" interpolation on "Southern Comfort Zone," to the choice to bring both Mat Kearney and Charlie Daniels in as rappers, leaving teen heartthrob Hunter Hayes to play guitar and Eric Idle to sing. Paisley houses all these quirks underneath a looming cloud of arena rock atmospherics borrowed from U2, then accentuates everything with shouted harmonies laid on way too thickly, an expansive, ambitious production that remains admirable even with when it's unsuccessful. Usually, Wheelhouse suffers when the cross-cultural ambition is too great — the wickedly funny "Oustanding in Our Field" samples Roger Miller and features a sly Dierks Bentley cameo, two moves so natural they wind up illustrating the labor that lies elsewhere — but when Paisley does pull it all together, as he does on "Karate" or the joyous "Beat This Summer" (as effervescent a song as he's ever cut), the results are so good they wind up proving his point that more country singers should step outside their wheelhouse.

Customer Reviews

A Resounding Triumph

The message of this album is all about taking risks, daring to move beyond comfort zones and the proverbial stagnancy that creeps up in life. And on "Wheelhouse," Brad Paisley does just that (though to imply his music was stagnant before would be a gross misconception). This record is a resounding triumph, a testament not only to Paisley's musicianship and skill, but also to his passion and commitment and unwavering pursuit of excellence. He dared to move beyond his comfort zone, and it paid off. Make no mistake: this is the Paisley we've come to know and love (well-written and relatable story-songs; fantastic guitar work; unrestrained country spirit), but with so much more. Paisley pushes himself musically and succeeds; he covers topics and themes that give this album tremendous weight. He even produced it himself, and the organic feel of the production is utterly refreshing. In life, the only way to truly grow is to take risks. With "Wheelhouse," Paisley proves this once again—though he didn't merely grow. He soared.

This is what is wrong with people.

This is what is wrong with people. He has put out completely different songs on different albums and he does one thing that is too different from you and you fold on him. Don't call yourself a fan of him. You can like his songs, but if you like Brad Paisley you know that what he stands for is embracing change and going further than before. Most current country music fans think George Strait is the perfect representation of country but when he was realeasing music people thought he was radical. So stop calling him a sell out. Just because you dont like it, doesnt mean it is bad.

To everyone who says he lost his talent please stop listening to music. You obviously know nothing about music development. If you want to delete all his music because you feel betrayed then fine. We didnt want to call you a fellow Brad Paisley fan anyway. Some people are far too ignorant to change and are missing the messages sent by Paisley to his fans in this album.

Awesome record

This whole album was done without any of the usual record producers he isn't trying to please anyone. He is leaving his wheelhouse making this album. That was the whole point. He is experimenting. I thought country fans were loyal. I guess not. I think it will be a great album. Brad is still my favorite artist and guitarist.

Biography

Born: October 28, 1972 in Glen Dale, WV

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Arguably the preeminent male country artist to emerge in the 2000s, Brad Paisley cannily blended the past with the present, paying constant tribute to his forefathers — when he reached the top of the charts, he still found space for Little Jimmy Dickens and George Jones in his videos — but pushing the music forward into the new millennium, expanding its sonic and thematic possibilities. This sense of adventure could be heard on 2009's American Saturday Night, a big-hearted and eclectic...
Full Bio
Wheelhouse, Brad Paisley
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