Sound: Before writing this, I would just like to address the reader that I have been a fan of Brad Paisley for just over a year. During that time, I have and listened to all of his records and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. Upon it's first listen, I would like to say that Part II does take some time to get used to. Given that it's Brad's sophomore effort, the reader will appreciate that it is most definitely not his best work to date [we'll leave that to award winning album, Time Well Wasted and 5th Gear]. Let me say that I didn't fully appreciate it until I completely soaked up the first two albums. After listening to Brad's more recent albums, both Time Well Wasted and 5th Gear, I'd say that Part II is definitely my third favourite album, before Mud on the Tires.
The sound of this album takes on more of a traditional country sounds than his recent efforts, I feel. His later albums had more singles I feel but Part II definitely had more passion involved: it songs that were more personal and in Brad's own words as evidenced on CMT [with John Mayer], his earlier stuff seemed so desperate that it was pathetic. There's some truth in that indeed which is displayed in the very first track, Two Feet of Topsoil, in which Brad memoirs on the different occasions where he felt that he couldn't have been lower in love. Evidently, this track would be the weakest of the album and in my opinion, the weakest track of them all, lyrically, despite Brad displaying some his best acoustic playing. If you read some of my other Brad Paisley reviews, you would recall me saying constantly that the lyrics on his earlier albums are weaker and I definitely stand by that but the sound on all of his albums is top notch and I can't complain at all or expect more.
As mentioned earlier, this album is very personal. I'd say it was Brad's second most personal album [Who Needs Pictures earns the top spot]. Being personal, I'd say this album is about passion, life chances and lust as well as being downright pathetic. Bear in mind - I don't mean that to be negative in any way! It's one of the trademark traits of this album and even Brad said that this album was about being pathetic - Two Feet of Topsoil, I'm gonna miss her, Wrapped Around, Too Country and Come on Over Tonight come to mind, the latter being about making a fool out of yourself to a girl and having your friends laughing at you, while you believe that you'll never find love again. I'm gonna miss her is also an episode of being seemingly pathetic, about leaving your lover for a fish. Funny stuff, really and it'll please anyone who knows a thing or two about lyrics. Other humourous tracks which deserve a mention are Wrapped Around [about being confronted by your fiances father] and Too Country [don't ask me what this is about - I still don't know, what with the lyrics, Does it have too much tang?] As well as being the wit of humour, this album can get pretty serious. Some of the more serious traits of this album are passion/heartache and life chances. A few songs come to mind here, the most serious being, You'll Never Leave Harlem Alive. This song, correct me if I'm wrong, is about Coal-Country and how after the Great Depression, several coal miners were forced to exhaust themselves to make enough money to survive on, which the consequences meant that they'd never leave Harlem, alive.
The rest of the tracks are about life chances and passion. I'd like to say, before I continue, that my favourite track is Part II and correctly chosen to be the title name. This is about what would happen if we had second chances; a very romantic piece of music that I find myself almost in tears every time I hear it. I can relate to so much of my life with that track and I always wonder, upon listening to that track, what if this happened instead of that and how I would, change the way the story ends. It hits me every time. I may as well mention the next track that is along similar lines, I'd Wish You'd Stay. This track borders Part II in which the song describes the hurt we all feel when we lose a friend/family member, not physically but emotionally. We all have to leave friends and family sometime otherwise we'd never grow inside. Despite being all for the best, we all tell ourselves everyday to our friends/family in our heads that I'd wish you'd stay.
I think the track which displays Brad's talent most is the track you have that effect on me, in which Brad tears it up and shows us he can play jazz. One of the most appreciative factors of Brad is his ability to play different genres as well as country. It's the first step in bringing country into the limelight and a way to introduce the younger and dare I say older generation to more traditional country artists like the legendary Little Jimmy Dickens. Other memorable tracks which displays Brad's potential as an artist is the instrumental Munster Rag [one word - mind blowing instrumental talent]. The last tracks that I haven't mentioned yet is all you really need is love and the old rugged cross [a Christian anthem], which are both quite neutral and very laid back. Forgive me for saying that I can't really comment on them further. // 10
Lyrics: As mentioned before on many occassions, the lyrics aren't the best. You have some shining starts such as You have that Effect on me, Part II and I'd wish you'd stay but other than that, I think the lyrics are quite average. Some of the lyrics, unfortunately didn't make too much sense, as evidence in Too Country. It's a humourous track about being too country so you can't really take the lyrics too seriously but nevertheless, it is a very enjoyable listen and indeed a WTF moment, "Is the Chicken too Fluffy, does it have too much tang?" As always, there's nothing wrong with Brad's singing, none whatsoever. // 8
Overall Impression: I'd say that Part II is an album better appreciated after listening to Brad's later works. There's a reason why this album didn't get as far while the later ones did and won many awards as well as spawning 7 number 1 hits. Well, please take the time to digest what I said. I really do mean that it does take some time to listen to and that won't make it any easier than if you listened to his latter stuff. I just thing his latter some are easier to get into because they're more modern. Unlike a lot of artists, Brad's work just gets better and better. // 9