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Brad Paisley

Play – 2008 (SonyBMG)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Brad Paisley

It's daring these days for a major-label country star to include an instrumental on an album of carefully picked radio-friendly songs. But kick off an album with an instrumental? How anti-Nashville. Then follow it with another - a Dick Dale surf guitar-inspired wave-rider to boot - how cool is that?

Brad Paisley gets the nomination for gutsiest singer-songwriter-picker in Nashville these days, especially with his latest He names the new record "Play," and boy howdy, does he. It's as if Paisley picked up his Guitar Hero and nailed every single note from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Les Paul to Duane Allman to Don Rich and then some. Paisley even gathers the world's best pickers on Cluster Pluck - James Burton, Albert Lee, Brent Mason and Vince Gill among them. (Gill says, "We left no note unplayed") - for a jaw-dropping jam session.

Paisley finds room for vocals among the 15 tracks, teaming with fellow triple-threat Keith Urban on Start a Band, joins Steve Wariner to ruminate about their mentors on More Than Just a Song and absolutely tears it up with B.B. King on the blues classic Let the Good Time Roll. Bravo to Paisley for making an album that's fun, compelling and completely contemporary from start to finish.