Tag Archives: Brad Paisley

My Top 13 Songs of 2017 So Far

Editor’s Note: I wrote “my” instead of “Country Exclusive’s” for a reason; this does not necessarily reflect the views of our entire site. Also, these are not, and I repeat, not, in any order. Finally, with the exception of one song which I felt it would be idiotic to leave out, these are all from stuff we have covered in some fashion, either by a full-length review or perhaps through a feature in our “Memorable Songs from Overlooked Albums” pieces. Normally, I would restrict this to stuff one of us has actually written about, but that would leave out one song which, like I say, it would be a glaring sin not to bring up here. So take all this into consideration, and feel free to leave your own lists of songs and thoughts about these in the comments below!

Aaron Watson: “Clear Isabel”

From Vaquero
The first song to really blow my mind in 2017, this is a great and timely story about Isabel and her father, Mariano, who flee to America to escape the cartels of Mexico. Isabel ends up married to the narrator of the song, but her father is deported and later gunned down. It’s an honest and heartbreaking look at immigration, not to mention a brilliant song. Even better with the instrumental prelude, “Mariano’s Dream.”

Jaime Wyatt: “Wishing Well”

From Felony Blues
Jaime Wyatt is probably the name I’m most excited about breaking out in 2017. She has a way of singing about hardship that still manages to put a smile on your face, and this is just a stellar song that gets better every time I hear it.

Natalie Hemby: “Cairo, IL”

This one comes off Puxico, which we didn’t review in full, but it was partly responsible for the “Memorable Songs” features because this track about the lonely, forgotten river town of Cairo, Illinois, is one of the best songs of the year and should by no means be overlooked.

Jason Eady: “Barabbas”

From Jason Eady’s self-titled album
Purely from a songwriting standpoint, this has to be the cleverest thing to come out this year, telling us the story of the man freed by the crucifixion of Jesus, yet never mentioning Jesus or religion, and instead allowing the song to be a timeless track for everyone, although connecting even more deeply with those of faith.

Angaleena Presley: “Dreams Don’t Come True

From Wrangled
This just blew me away on the first listen; who’s going to tell you, especially at the beginning of their record, that look, dreams don’t come true, and don’t believe anyone who says otherwise? But it’s Angaleena Presley’s reality, and credit her for confronting it head-on to deliver us something so powerfully painful and honest.

Angaleena Presley: “Wrangled”

Also from Wrangled
Angaleena Presley has the distinction of being the only one on the list with two entries, but this song is equally deserving. From the wonderful melody to the thought-provoking lyrics about being “wrangled” by her life and husband, this song stands out just as much as “Dreams Don’t Come True.”

Brad Paisley: “Gold All Over the Ground”

From Love and War
What, a mainstream name like Brad Paisley? Yes, that’s what I said. This is Paisley’s musical adaptation of a poem composed by Johnny Cash in the 1960’s, and they don’t make love songs like this anymore. Between the poetry of Cash and the arrangement of Paisley, it has definitely earned its place among the best songs so far in 2017.

Colter Wall: “Kate McCannon

From Colter Wall’s self-titled album
There were many outstanding songs on Colter Wall’s debut record, I just picked the one that shined a tiny bit brighter than the rest.

Chris Stapleton: “Either Way”

From From a Room, Volume 1
I didn’t always think Chris Stapleton showed emotion on his new album–sometimes he just belted songs, and they lost a little of the passion. But this is one moment where he absolutely killed it, and this version might be better than the original LeeAnn Womack version.

The Steel Woods: “Straw in the Wind”

From Straw in the Wind
What a dark, ominous tale–this one comes from one of our collaborative reviews, and Brianna and I both agreed that this story of a town where strangers “disappear like straw in the wind” is a standout of the record.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: “If we Were Vampires”

Yeah, here’s the one I didn’t review, but this is one of the best songs of Isbell’s career, and when I said they don’t make love songs like that anymore about Paisley’s, I guess Isbell proved me wrong. He mentions all the details he loves about his wife, and more than that, he makes you think of death as a gift because it allows you to be a better lover and make the moments last. What a beautiful and morbid picture of love; I’ve never been sad, happy, and scared while listening to a love song before, but that’s what Jason Isbell does here.

Kasey Chambers: “Jonestown

From Dragonfly
The standout of Chambers’ recent double album, this one deals with hardship and discrimination and tells a great story. Probably the most underrated and least known one on the list.

Trisha Yearwood: “Maggie’s Dream”

This one is from the Gentle Giants album, and like I said before when I mentioned this song, I don’t care that it’s a cover, it’s still one of the best songs of the year. Trisha Yearwood delivered a better rendition of an already great song, and she’s earned her place on this list.

Honorable Mentions

  • Jason Eady: “Black Jesus”
  • John Moreland: “Love is Not an Answer”
  • Lauren Alaina: “Same Day, Different Bottle”
  • Zac Brown Band: “All the Best”
  • Kelleigh Bannen: “Church clothes”
  • Rhiannon Giddens: “Better Get it Right the First Time”
  • Sam Outlaw: “Everyone’s Looking For Home”

Artists I Wish Would Take a Hint From Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley was one of the first artists that got me into country music. He may not be your favorite–and that’s okay–but you can’t argue with songs like “Who Needs Pictures,” “we Danced,” and certainly “Whiskey Lullaby.” He was one of the people that I heard on the radio in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that made me fall in love with this genre. He really disappointed me on his last two albums; they weren’t terrible, but they just weren’t Brad Paisley. You could tell he was trying to be something he was not. His guitar play was noticeably lacking, and he seemed to be veering toward chasing radio success. On his latest album, Love and War, he has gone back to being himself, and that’s just refreshing. There was a discussion on SCM about whether or not Brad will make it into the Hall of Fame, and all that remains to be seen, but he can’t do anything better than be himself, and that’s what he has done on his latest record. It got me thinking and talking about a lot of the artists that got me into country in the first place. A lot of them made some fine music earlier in their careers but have since started to kill their legacies by chasing short-term success and promoting mindless singles to radio. They could learn from Paisley, as well as Tim McGraw, who has also returned to form recently. Zac Brown Band could easily be talked about on either side of the conversation here, but I’ll reserve judgment until May 12th and hope I can include them in with Paisley and McGraw. Anyway, let me know if there are any artists you’d add to this list, as these are just the ones whose decline in quality over the years has personally bother me the most.

Dierks Bentley

Why, why can’t we get back the Dierks Bentley of “Up on the ridge” and “Riser?” Yep, “riser” was released in 2015; even then, he hadn’t sold out. There’s not even any point in him selling out this way–he was getting airplay anyway. Black is certainly not the most terrible album I’ve heard in recent memory, but it’s one of the most disappointing because I really thought we could count on Dierks Bentley. This is what he is capable of.

Blake Shelton

I own a Blake Shelton album called Loaded: the Best of Blake Shelton. Ironically, that album was released just prior to the beginning of his stint on The Voice, and so, essentially, it really is the best of Blake. Anyway, that record is great. But people won’t remember that; he’s done his best to eradicate all that in the past five years with the majority of his singles. I remember when I first heard “Austin,” and it blew me away. Same goes for “Don’t Make Me.” Blake does a lot for traditional country and music of substance from his chair on The Voice, and I just wish he’d take his own advice because if he did, I think he could be remembered for more than his reality show and his obnoxious tweets.

Keith Urban

Those of you that are shocked I own a Blake Shelton album, brace yourselves for this…I own no less than six–yep six–Keith Urban records…I’ll give you a moment to digest the fact that I’m not a Sturgill apologist, yet I own six Keith Urban records…now then. Keith Urban was a prime example of what good pop country is supposed to be–right up till the single “Little Bit of Everything” and his American Idol run (coincidence, Blake?). He used to write much of his material as well, and whether you enjoyed it or not, he was real. Keith Urban might be the most disappointing artist in the mainstream for me because he is just simply better than the crap he is releasing to radio–and it’s not as if he was ever especially traditional in the first place, so I don’t exactly see radio not playing him if he went back to more meaningful material. It literally boils down to laziness in his case, and that’s unfortunate.

Kenny Chesney

He is better than this too, even if you’re sick of beach music. His last record was absolutely boring and lifeless. Even Chesney sounds bored. I miss the days of “There Goes my Life” and “Old Blue chair.” Like Brad and Keith, even if Kenny isn’t your favorite, he used to at least be himself.

Eli Young Band

I remember when Eli Young Band were a cool Texas band releasing equally cool new music instead of shit like “Turn it On.” Yeah, that is basically all.

Honorable Mentions

  • Josh Turner–His last album wasn’t quite disappointing enough to piss me off on this level, it was mainly just boring, but if he releases more like this, he’ll make the list.
  • Little big town–I wish they’d get back to themselves, but I didn’t enjoy them enough when they were themselves to be as annoyed by them now. Also, The Breaker was a small step in the right direction.
  • the Band Perry–I don’t think them coming back to themselves is even possible at this point, so I don’t see the point listing them here.

Album Review: Brad Paisley Gets Back to Himself on Love and War

Rating: 7.5/10

I won’t waste your time with a lot of introduction to this because you all know Brad Paisley, and most likely you’ve already formed an opinion. I’ve heard a lot of different takes on this album, but the one that sums it up the best is whatever your previous opinion of Brad was, this record’s not going to change it. So if you think he’s just that guy who did “Whiskey Lullaby” and maybe some other great songs early in his career and then killed his legacy with joke songs, I suggest you stop reading this review. If you’re like me, and you think he is one of the mainstream’s best, and maybe you were disappointed in the direction he went after This is Country Music, I’m happy to say what we get on Love and War is mostly a nice return to form for Brad Paisley.

There are sixteen songs on this album, and the main problem is not necessarily terrible songs, it’s just that there is too much filler–Josh of Country Perspective would have called it “wallpaper.” The unfortunate thing about it is that most of the wallpaper comes on the front half, and for that reason, as well as the fact that there’s just so much here, I’ll get to the highlights first.

Without a doubt, the shining moment on Love and War is “Gold All Over the Ground,” a poem written by Johnny Cash in the 1960’s that Brad Paisley lovingly set to music and performed excellently. My words can’t do justice to the poetry of Johnny Cash, and this one is the one you should make it a point to hear. It flows effortlessly into “Dying to See Her,” another great love song featuring Bill Anderson and telling the story of a man who has been going downhill since his wife died; the doctors can’t figure out why, but he is literally “dying to see her.” Together, these two songs make an outstanding moment on the record. These two are sandwiched between two collaborations with yes, Timbaland–I said it on Twitter, but I’ll say it again, if you have a problem listening to Paisley’s record because of Timbaland, this is unfortunate and, frankly, stupid. “Grey Goose Chase,” in fact, is one of the best songs; it’s fun and slightly bluegrass-inspired and sees the narrator going on the “grey goose chase” to drink away an ex. The other Timbaland contribution, “Solar Power Girl,” isn’t as strong, but that’s not due to Timbaland, it’s due to the lyrics. It’s about a girl who is escaping a bad home life which is compared to darkness and rain for college and a new, bright world where she can be a “solar power girl.” This one isn’t a highlight, but it’s not bad, and either way, Timbaland being a part of this album in no way brings it down…but I digress.

The title track is another strong collaboration, this time with John Fogerty, about our soldiers and how little the country does for them when they return home. It’s something that needs to be addressed, and too often in country, it’s simply patriotic songs and odes to fallen troops. This is a reality that shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s also a collaboration with Mick Jagger, the fun, upbeat “Drive of Shame” that details the embarrassing morning after a night in Vegas.

Speaking of fun songs, Brad Paisley is certainly known for them, for better or worse, and I have to say, “Selfie#theinternetisforever” is definitely better. I am biased because I have serious issues with social media and the people glued to their phones and taking selfies of everything, but this song is just great. Another humorous moment that works is “One Beer Can,” where Brad tells the hapless story of Bobby, who cleaned up everything after a party while his parents were away–but still got grounded because he left one beer can behind the couch.

Now, as I mentioned, there’s some wallpaper/filler and some songs that could have just been left off without effect. “Heaven South” is not the worst album opener of 2017, but it’s definitely the most unfortunate–it’s checklist-ish and boring even if it’s harmless and inoffensive. I’m still not getting onboard with “Today,” the lead single–honestly, it’s just too underdeveloped and too sappy. It’s very generic and yeah, it’s not bad, but on a sixteen-song album I could do without it. Brad attempts to be sexy in “Go to Bed early” and, to a lesser extent, in “Contact High,” and for me, that just fails, so neither of these songs do anything for me. I will say “Contact High” does feature some very nice guitar play by Paisley, as does a lot of this record, which was somewhat lacking on his last couple albums, so that’s another nice return to himself. The biggest problem is that every song I just mentioned is on the front half of the album, so it is just a little unfortunate.

There’s one track on the back half that admittedly I just hate, and I can’t be completely unbiased about it. This is “The Devil is Alive and Well.” Now, for any of you who read Country Music Minds, you all know Leon does what he would call “philosophical rambling” on quite a frequent basis, and he is a lot better at it than I am. Anyway, he summed up nicely why I hate it in his review of this, and if you want a more concise, eloquent explanation, I suggest you read that. but basically, the song mentions all the evil in the world and the chorus states that whether or not we believe in heaven and hell, “I bet we can agree that the devil is alive and well.” The message itself is good, but it isn’t executed well; it explains the evil, and later says that “god is love” but doesn’t really do much to talk about God doing his part to combat evil. I don’t want to ramble on about this because it’s a completely personal reason and difference of philosophy that makes me hate this song, but honesty comes first here at Country exclusive, and that was my immediate reaction to the song and remains my opinion after several listens.

Overall, I’m glad to see that Brad Paisley is back to being Brad Paisley. Take that as you will; this record won’t change your mind about him, but if you were hesitant to buy this because his last two records were somewhat disappointing, rest assured that he’s back to doing what he does best which is just being himself. And if you were hesitant to buy this because of Timbaland, just stop.

Listen to Album

Billboard Country Airplay and Country Albums Chart (November 28th)

Billboard Country Airplay

1. Chris Young–“I’m Comin’ Over” (up 2)
2. Cole Swindell–“Let Me See Ya Girl”
3. Carrie Underwood–“Smoke Break” (up 1)
4. Dan + Shay–“Nothin’ Like You” (up 1)
5. Blake Shelton–“Gonna” (up 1)
6. Old Dominion–“Break Up With Him” (down 5)
7. Jason Aldean–“Gonna Know We Were Here” (up 1)
8. Tim McGraw–“Top of the World” (up 1)
9. Cam–“Burning House” (up 1)
10. Brothers Osborne–“Stay a Little Longer” (up 1)
11. Thomas Rhett–“Die a Happy Man” (up 1)
12. LoCash–“I Love this Life” (up 2)
13. Parmalee–“Already Callin’ You Mine”
14. Jana Kramer–“I Got the Boy” (up 1)
15. Kelsea Ballerini–“Dibs” (up 2)
16. Big & Rich–“Run Away With You”
17. Sam Hunt–“Break Up in a Small Town” (up 2)
18. Granger Smith–“Back Road Song” (up 2)
19. Randy Houser–“We Went” (down 1)
20. Brad Paisley–“Country Nation” (up 1)
21. Hunter Hayes–“21” (up 1)
22. Zac Brown Band–“Beautiful Drug” (up 1)
23. Chase Bryant–“Little Bit of You” (up 1)
24. A Thousand Horses–(“This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” (down 1)
25. Keith Urban–“Break On Me” (up 4)
26. Rascal Flatts–“I Like the Sound of That” (up 2)
27. Dierks Bentley–“Riser” (down 1)
28. Lee Brice–“That Don’t Sound Like You” (down 1)
29. Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild–“Home Alone Tonight” (entering top 30)
30. Eric Church–“Mr. Misunderstood” (entering top 30)

  • new #1: “I’m Comin’ Over” [an actual good song]
  • next week’s #1 prediction: “Smoke Break
  • the atrocity that is “Home Alone Tonight” enters the top 30 this week, along with a good song, Eric Church’s “Mr. Misunderstood”
  • Florida Georgia Line’s “Anything Goes” finally fell from #7 to out of the top 30

Billboard Top Country Albums

1. Chris Stapleton–Traveller
2. Eric Church–Mr. Misunderstood
3. Tim McGraw–Damn Country Music [debut]
4. Carrie Underwood–Storyteller
5. Old Dominion–Meat and Candy [debut]
6. Luke Bryan–Kill the Lights
7. Sam Hunt–Montevallo
8. Blake Shelton–Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits
9. Josh Abbott Band–Front Row Seat
10. Thomas Rhett–Tangled Up
11. Cole Swindell–Down Home Sessions II (EP) [debut]
12. Little Big Town–Painkiller
13. Chris Janson–Buy me a Boat
14. Don Henley–Cass County
15. George Strait–Cold Beer Conversation
16. Hunter Hayes–21 Project
17. Eric Church–The Outsiders
18. Zac Brown Band–Jekyll + Hyde
19. Alan Jackson–Genuine: the Alan Jackson Story
20. Sam Hunt–Between the Pines: Acoustic Mixtape (EP)
21. Florida Georgia Line–Anything Goes
22. Alabama–Southern Drawl
23. Various Artists–Now That’s What I Call Country, Volume 8
24. Jason Aldean–Old Boots, New Dirt
25. Brett Eldredge–Illinois

  • Chris Stapleton enjoys a 2nd week at #1 with Traveller
  • Tim McGraw’s mostly good Damn Country Music debuts at #3
  • Josh Abbott Band’s concept album, Front Row Seat, debuts at #9

Source: Billboard

Billboard Country Airplay and Country Albums Chart (November 14th)

Billboard Country Airplay

1. Old Dominion–“Break up With Him” (up 1)
2. Cole Swindell–“Let Me See Ya Girl” (up 2)
3. Florida Georgia Line–“Anything Goes”
4. Carrie Underwood–“Smoke Break” (up 1)
5. Chris Young–“I’m Comin’ Over” (up 2)
6. Dan + Shay–“Nothin’ Like You”
7. Blake Shelton–“Gonna” (up 1)
8. Luke Bryan–“Strip it Down” (down 7)
9. Jason Aldean–“Gonna Know We Were Here” (up 2)
10. Kenny Chesney–“Save It for a Rainy Day” (down 1)
11. Cam–“Burning House” (up 1)
12. Tim McGraw–“Top of the World” (up 1)
13. Brothers Osborne–“Stay a Little Longer” (up 1)
14. Parmalee–“Already Callin’ You Mine” (up 1)
15. LoCash–“I Love This Life” (up 4)
16. Big & Rich–“Run Away With You”
17. Jana Kramer–“I Got the Boy”
18. Thomas Rhett–“Die a Happy Man” (up 2)
19. Kelsea Ballerini–“Dibs” (down 1)
20. Randy Houser–“We Went” (up 2)
21. Brad Paisley–“Country Nation”
22. Sam Hunt–“Break Up In a Small Town” (up 1)
23. Granger Smith–“Back Road Song” (up 1)
24. Hunter Hayes–“21” (up 1)
25. A Thousand Horses–(“This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” (up 1)
26. Chase Bryant–“Little Bit of You” (up 1)
27. Dierks Bentley–“Riser” (up 1)
28. Lee Brice–“That Don’t Sound Like You” (up 1)
29. Zac Brown Band–“Beautiful Drug” (up 1)
30. Rascal Flatts–“I Like the Sound of That” (entering top 30)

  • new #1: “Break Up With Him,” aka the douchebag anthem
  • next week’s #1 prediction: “Let Me See Ya Girl”
  • Chase Rice’s “Gonna Wanna Tonight” finally, mercifully fell out of this chart after a year

Billboard Top Country Albums

1. Carrie Underwood–Storyteller [debut]
2. Blake Shelton–Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits [debut]
3. Luke Bryan–Kill the Lights
4. Thomas Rhett–Tangled Up
5. Don Henley–Cass County
6. Sam Hunt–Montevallo
7. Sam Hunt–Between the Pines: Acoustic Mixtape [debut]
8. George Strait–Cold Beer Conversation
9. Eric Church–The Outsiders
10. Jimmy Fortune–Hits & Hymns [debut]
11. Toby Keith–35 Mph Town
12. Jana Kramer–Thirty One
13. Various Artists–Now That’s What I Call Country, Volume 8
14. Colt Ford–Answer to No One: The Colt Ford Classics [debut]
15. Kelsea Ballerini–The First Time
16. Zac Brown Band–Jekyll + Hyde
17. Little Big Town–Painkiller
18. Brett Eldredge–Illinois
19. Jason Aldean–Old Boots, New Dirt
20. Carrie Underwood–Greatest Hits: Decade #1
21. Alabama–Southern Drawl
22. Florida Georgia Line–Anything Goes
23. Brantley Gilbert–Just as I Am
24. Kane Brown–Closer (EP)
25. Chris Stapleton–Traveller

  • Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller debuts at #1
  • Sam Hunt’s “acoustic mixtape” Between the Pines debuts at #7
  • Kelsea Ballerini’s The First Time moved up to #15 this week from #28

Source: Billboard