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Brad Paisley

5th Gear – 2007 (Arista Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Brad Paisley

The word "reliable" is usually only a positive description in the context of, say, evaluating a household appliance. But it's a complimentary term for Brad Paisley's recorded output. This man simply makes excellent recordings, year after year. "Predictable" also has negative connotations with regard to musical criticism, but Paisley's CD formula is consistently predictable in the best possible ways. Each release is accented with humor ("Mr. Policeman" and "I'm Still a Guy," this time out), heart-tuggers ("It Did") and an old hymn ("When We All Get to Heaven").

And let's not forget Paisley's obvious lead guitar skills, which put the pedal to the metal on opener "All I Wanted Was a Car," as well as the instrumental "Throttleneck." If only all mainstream country music was this predictably reliable. Paisley sells everything he sings with natural charm and boyish good looks. He's the Cary Grant of country music. Thus, he can seamlessly follow "Bigger Fish to Fry," the confessions of a serial sinner, with "When We All Get to Heaven," the words of a saint looking forward to afterlife glory. As with Grant, it's hard to dislike the man - whether he's playing the good guy or the bad guy.