Sound: Well, being a long time Brad Paisley fan, I wasn't surprised to see a lot of different sounds. Brad's always been very versatile and so I had the expectation to hear a lot of Jazz, Traditional Country, Chicken Picking and Blues. It's a shame that people are unwilling to listen to him because he has his country routes, hailing from West Virginia. Any Brad fan knows that his sound continuously changes and in truth, he's only ever produced one album that can be categorised as "Traditional Country". As each album progresses, his sound and genre changes to being more guitar orientated and more country pop/rock.
So far so good - no qualms there because his playing is absolutely supurb. I've been a long time fan of Brad and I've since encouraged people to listen to his playing. To my dismay, very few were willing to listen to him and it's only now that he's become very well known for his guitar skills. I feel as if I've been somewhat looked over:(
As already mentioned, Brad Paisley gets more guitar-orientated with every album and Play is no exception because unlike his others, this is intended to be an instrumental album - with only 2 tracks being vocal (3 is you have the digipack which includes Time Well Wasted Hit, Waiting on a Woman). Brad has finally achieved the feat of 12 #1 singles and 8 consecutive #1s (and still counting) and so in a way, it really doesn't matter if Play isn't well received on the charts (because the tracks are instrumentals and thus not radio-friendly) because he knows he can do it all again. Brad wanted to do it and no one will take him down for it because he's earned all of our respect.
The sound of the album is awesome. It features so many collaborations that have people in shock - most notable in the song, Cluster Pick featuring not only James Burton but Vince Gill, Albert Lee, John Jorgenson, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert, Steve Wariner all on one track! Yes, it's all chicken picking goodness! Also on the album features Keith Urban, country colleague to Brad, Mr. BB King and Buck Owens.
The album opens with a very Vai-esque/Satc song - Huckleberry Jam. It reminds me of Juice by Vai or Satch Boogie. What do you call it - a type of Chicken Picking boogie? Yeah - that's a good way to describe it but with the added effects of lap steel guitar and awesome fiddle. To me, this song isn't the hallmark of this album but it does provide a great opener for what is to come.
Next up is Turf's Up, obviously a surf song with a lot of reverb. I've heard a lot of people describe this as their favourite track of the album because of the tones Brad uses on this song - very clean playing reminiscent of the Surf legends of the 60s. This song is sure to delight Brad fans as it showcases another talent that Brad has that was previously unheard of: that is the ability to play surf guitar!
Next song is Start a band - the uber radio friendly song that sounds like it came from Time Well Wasted. This song was on my Ipod for ages because I really loved the guitar solos that Brad and Keith Urban traded off. I knew Urban was a good guitar player but I didn't know he could pull off solos like this, especially next to Brad, with whom Urban said he would love to steal his guitar talent.
This song is sure to put a smile on your face and remember the times where you too, thought you'd make it as a musician - that's out the window now and so you can just laugh at yourself. Brilliantly executed!
Kim is also one of my favourites of the album because it's a slow ballad and features Brad playing some of his best guitar licks yet that isn't so shred. Here's living proof that Brad can play 4 minutes of slow lead playing with a gorgeous tone to die for.
Departure - yeah, another good song very Throttleneck like but very different in that there seems to be more bass guitar than usual. It's very strange and if anything sounds more like a modern poprock song but of course with a lot of lead playing.
Come on In - yeah, a mediocre duet worth of Time Well Wasted. Not hugely worth raving on about but it's nice to revisit songs that remind you of previous album takes.
Kentucky Jelly - Oooh! Acoustic Guitar bluegrass goodness! Brad is a master acoustic picker and this song is evidence of his versatility to play all types of country.
Playing with Fire is Brad's Stevie Ray tribute - a track which proves that Brad can play blues to a very high standard - also notable is Brad's duet with BB King.
Next song - More Than Just This Song. This is the second vocal song of the album. I consider it to be the worst of the album and in my honest opinion, not really worth listening to. I just don't think it fits in with the album and should have been left out. This is my "skip song".
Les is More is the next song. Can you guess which tribute this might be? Of course, only to the legendary Les Paul. If you haven't listened to anything by Les Paul, I strongly recommend you listening to him because he's a genuis on guitar and in his prime, could outshred anyone. Brad Paisley does a good job playing Jazz guitar. Of course, we've all heard Brad play Jazz before but it's well worth the listen.
Cluster Pick features James Burton, Vince Gill, Albert Lee, John Jorgenson, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert, Steve Wariner in 3 minutes of chicken picking goodness. What else can you ask for?
Cliffs of Rock City - Mr. Brad Paisley is an Eric Johnson fan and this is his tribute to him. Who would have pegged Paisley as a Eric Johnson fan? I understand Brad is very versatile but this really does take the biscuit (in a positive way) because it just really showcases that Brad knows a lot about music than we give him credit for. He knows good guitar players, past legends and gives full respect to them by naming his songs after the intended influential piece or artist (sort of like Playing with Fire and the Rolling Stones).
What a Friend we have in Jesus, I can only imagine is Brad Paisley's Tommy Emmanuel tribute. It's very TE and I don't doubt he was the key influence to this song. // 10
Lyrics: As mentioned - 2/3 tracks are vocal the rest is instrumental. I'll just give this a 10 because UG won't let me submit it without rating the singing skills. His singing, however, on the vocal tracks has been much the same as the previous albums and the same goes with the lyrics - nothing's really changed which is good. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall impressions - just get it if you want to get a overall feel of how talented Brad Paisley is with a guitar. This is a perfect Christmas present to give someone who is truly in love with the guitar. This album is far better than I had originally expected and I look forward to Brad's next album. // 10