Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Can Brad Paisley be the second coming of Alan Jackson? Both aren't afraid to put some twang in their country. With his third album, Paisley now shows he's also not afraid to tackle a few social issues while taking chances as well with an extremely meaty 17-cut disc.
On its face, "Celebrity" is a jocular song about the "huge" problems of being famous. The video for the song goes for the light touch. But underneath that, Paisley seems to be taking dead aim at the rich and famous who think of themselves as being oh so important. "'Cause when you're a celebrity/It's adios reality/You can act just like a fool/People think you're cool," sings Paisley on the song he wrote. Paisley tackles the subject a second time with a reverse take on "Famous People" (where he sings "I'm one of the most famous people in the country," meaning rural America, not the U.S.)
Once again, give lots of credit to long-time friend and producer Frank Rogers and Paisley for staying true to their roots. Paisley has been a torchbearer of the traditional sound from the get go and has not changed his stance. You can hear lots of country instrumentation as a driving force in the music. Fiddle, Dobro and steel guitar are not dirty words in Paisley's musical vocabulary. Neither is covering a chestnut like "Farther Along." And the West Virginian plays his own guitar just fine (the driving "That's Love"). And his singing is top notch as well.
Paisley includes two instrumentals, once again underscoring the importance of the music. He gets humorous as well a few times, especially on "The Cigar Song" and the closing "Kung Pao" on which Little Jimmy Dickens just mangles the words. He also gets downright serious on "Whiskey Lullaby," a very sad song by Bill Anderson and Jon Randall about drinking and double suicide with wonderful vocals from Alison Krauss.
Paisley continues to show growth and depth of commitment to country. Jackson did that a number of years ago, and he's no flavor-of-the-month. That Paisley is well on his way to occupying the same turf is no small compliment.