By Nicola S.
Arista Nashville (2013)
Brad Paisley’s comfort zone isn’t limited to the Southern U.S. anymore. His new album, Wheelhouse, released April 9th, 2013 crosses many lines that country music has never crossed before. And to his fan’s surprise, his lyrics explore issues that aren’t on the mind of just any average country star.
Brad Paisley, a native of Glen Dale, West Virginia, has been a famous country music singer/songwriter since 1999. The instruments in his music are predominantly vocals, guitar, and mandolin. Paisley has released nine albums under the label Arista Nashville. His band is made up of: Brad Paisley on lead vocals and lead guitar,Gary Hooker on rhythm guitar, Randle Currie on steel guitar, Kendall Marcy on keyboards, banjo, and mandolin, Justin Williamson on fiddle and mandolin, Kenny Lewis on bass guitar, andBen Sesar on drums.
The album was recorded in 2012 at Paisley’s home in Franklin, Tennessee. In order to do this he converted the yellow farmhouse on his property into a studio, which allowed him to work on the album at all hours of the day and night. In addition, this was the first album of Paisley’s career in which he used his own band, “The Drama Kings,” rather than using studio musicians as usual. Some tracks feature artists such as Dierks Bentley, Hunter Hayes, and LL Cool J.
The main reason this album stands out is because of the heavy subject matter Paisley tackles in his songs. The songs on the album are risky and touch on various subjects such as xenophobia in “Southern Comfort Zone”, domestic violence in “Karate”, racism in “Accidental Racist”, and religion in “Those Crazy Christians”. Some of the songs on the album have a mellow vibe that evokes sadness such as “I Can’t Change the World” which starts off with poignant finger picking guitar. Other songs are upbeat summer anthems like “Beat This Summer” and “Outstanding In Our Field”. The song “Officially Alive” has an amazing chorus with a choir in the background that makes the song very uplifting and inspirational.
This album represents a big step for Paisley. The controversy “Accidental Racist” created in the media is very memorable. Some songs on the album are just catchy party tunes, but the ones that go deeper are the ones that will stay with the listener. The subject matter of some of the songs really makes the listener think, and that is what makes an album stand the test of time.
All in all, this album has some excellent songs, but many of the songs seem to be merely filler and are underwhelming. I would rate this album a 7/10 because the singles “Southern Comfort Zone” and “Beat This Summer” are so catchy they make up for the more mundane songs in the middle. Overall this album doesn’t disappoint. You can tell by listening that Paisley has grown as a person over time, and you might just grow too.
Nicola S. is a grade 12 student who loves to listen to country music with the windows rolled down.