Love And War review by Brad Paisley

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  • Released: Apr 21, 2017
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.1 (10 votes)
Brad Paisley: Love And War
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Sound — 6
Having earned more than enough music accolades to last a lifetime, Brad Paisley has built himself a throne within the highest echelon of contemporary country music. But as his career continues on after checking off all the achievements a musician can strive for, Paisley's recent work has displayed difficulties finding ways to climb from the heights his discography has already reached. After 2011's "This Is Country Music" was composed as a love letter to Paisley's musical heroes and the genre he practices, his self-produced ninth album, 2013's "Wheelhouse," attempted to weave more contemporary pop elements into his country sound. He continued this effort in his following tenth album, 2014's "Moonshine in the Trunk," while also describing it as a "modern honky-tonk record," but with those new music traits being unorthodox to the genre, his fanbase weren't welcoming to the additional music traits.

On his eleventh album, "Love and War," Paisley has more or less gotten the message regarding that. This time around, he strays away from additional production tricks and lets the stacked instrumental arrangements shine the brightest, whether it's the folksy mandolins and banjos that lushly decorate "Heaven South" and "Solar Power Girl," the heartland warmth of steel pedal guitar swells and fiddle melodies in "The Devil Is Alive And Well" and "Meaning Again," or Paisley's sharp guitar skills flaunted in the rollicking "One Beer Can," and the slow-burning southern rocker "Contact High."



These are all strong suits of "Love and War," but for album number eleven, Paisley's pristine instrumental output is an aspect that has more or less plateaued; duly so for the music it has practiced plenty of times over. Once again, Paisley does another lap around the genre's different styles, from the upbeat hoedown of "Grey Goose Chase" and the modern county rocker "Last Chance for Everything," to the lighter-waving power ballads of "Today" and "Gold All Over the Ground," and like his previous albums, the extraneous amount of tracks ends up dragging the album down with some duds, like the sappy, seductive ballad "Go to Bed Early," and the goofy country rocker "selfie#theinternetisforever." Perhaps in attempt to up the ante, the album boasts some iconic guest appearances, including Mick Jagger in the classic rocker "Drive of Shame," John Fogerty in the eponymous song, and Grand Ole Opry legend Bill Anderson in "Dying to See Her," but even with these remarkable features, the album doesn't add anything to the table that previous albums haven't done already.

Lyrics — 6
As opposed to the more party-centric lyrics in the previous "Moonshine in the Trunk," Paisley's lyrics in "Love and War" gravitate more towards the more insightful side of Paisley. From the theme of finality for better and for worse in "Last Time for Everything," the melancholy tale of a heartbroken widow in "Dying to See Her," and the political call to treat war veterans with more care in the eponymous song, Paisley does a good job displaying the wise substance he's capable of. But also coming with that older age, Paisley has moments where he sounds like an admonishing old man, whether in the story of a house party gone wrong in "One Beer Can," the scolding of a digitally-obsessed era in "selfie#theinternetisforever," or the more serious "the world is going to hell in a hand basket" message in "The Devil Is Alive and Well."

In other moments, however, Paisley also touts some lyrics that aim to rehash the impulsive and carefree attitude that contrasts his more mature lyrics. Sounding more sophomoric in his one-night stand escapades of "Drive Of Shame," drinking binges in "Grey Goose Chase," and describing a crush with weed puns in "Contact High," Paisley comes off like he wants to be the reckless and young country star he was before just as much as he wants to be the seasoned and sage country maven he is today. Ultimately, he can't have his cake and eat it, too.

Overall Impression — 6
With little room to expand the country music territory he's conquered, "Love and War" dependably and predictably delivers another batch of country hits (with some duds) just like the album before it, and the album before that, and the album before that, et cetera. There's no doubt that Paisley has mastered his craft, but in this staying of the course, there's a sense of placidness that "Love and War" isn't able to rise above. All in all, it's an output of average expectations in the context of Paisley's body of work.



21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    BwareDWare94
    "They ship you off to die for us; forget about you when you don't." This will be an iconic line in country music history. This is about the best we could hope for in a mainstream country album. A. It's actually a Country album as opposed to some awful mix of the most basic r&b, rock, rap, and pop elements. B. The good songs are phenomenal. C. The handful of missteps are all tolerable songs. 
    BillyBob65
    One thing is crystal clear about the album.  It is definitively country, opposed to any other genre while there may be some spats of other genre's thrown in for good measure.  It is refreshing to hear traditional country elements on display, while the rest of there country radio world has gone 100 percent pop and left any vestiges of country in the dust.  In addition, for which country music is most known, are phenomenal lyrical content.  Stories with depth, humor, and sorrow which will touch the listener greatly.  Songwriting is country music's forte, and this album delivers in spades. 
    hansklaus
    Ultra boring mainstream country album. Trys not to hurt anyone or have any profile at anything. Christian Harmony Country garbage. PS: Country isn´t bad at all, but this stuff really sucks!
    ytrappin
    country sucks, this is no exception
    BwareDWare94
    You know, Brad Paisley is probably a better guitar player than your favorite guitarist. That means you're not open enough to different kinds of music. 
    HugoPan
    This is true. I myself am not a country fan but Brad's music always grabbed my attention. the guy is a monster guitarrist. 
    TLGuitar
    I wouldn't be that certain about your first claim. I listened to a couple of his songs just now and he's a pretty capable guitarist, but if by "better" you speak of technical proficiency, there are a bunch of guitarists much better (i.e. more technical) in the Metal genre, especially in Progressive Metal. I don't know who's ytrappin's favorite guitarist, but there are plenty he could have chosen from. Regarding the music... Look, I get the basic appeal in that it's pretty much all consonance; there's nothing to sway your ears far from their comfort zone. But that's the main issue with it for me - it is as predictable as it gets. I found it boring very quickly because, even if it doesn't sound unpleasant or anything, I'm not intrigued by what I'm hearing. It doesn't tell something I don't already know... And even if a lot of the more basic-form Rock music relies on quite standard musical techniques, I think it more often manages to surprise you a little bit. With this I can analogize the musical structure to hearing a person talking and finishing each of their sentences before them in your head. I do find the accent kind of annoying, but I'm not from the USA... I assume that's probably how they talk from wherever he is. Though the cowboy hat and all Country music's repeating cowboy mannerisms look ridiculous to me. I'll finish with this note: some family friend of mine, who's a rock musician and producer (starting mostly with Progressive Rock; his long-disbanded group used to perform great covers of Genesis, King Crimson and the likes) told me Country music in the USA is like Mizrahi music in Israel (where I'm from). Want to have your ears bleeding?
    Understanding the lyrics would have also helped with the IQ-reducing effect.
    BillyBob65
    He is technically gifted enough that he is able to hang with Eric Johnson.  Brad's grandfather was a jazz guitarist.  If you've ever hear his solo album "Play", the guitar album, he records with Les Paul (before his death, I believe), with Eric Johnson on "Cliffs of Rock City", with BB King on "Let The Good Times Roll" and with some other monster "chicken pickers" like Brent Mason who is likely the most recorded studio session guitarist across all genre's of music.  You would be hard pressed to hear the "technical inaccuracies" between his playing and John Petrucci from Dream Theater.  Remember that just because a guitarist does not show all of their skill in an album, doesn't mean that they don't possess that skill.  I find it annoying that only in the United States to people bash other genre's of music that they don't prefer.  That is almost unheard of in Europe and Asia.  All genres of music have something to offer that are GOOD music.
    TLGuitar
    Did you even read my entire comment? For starters, I'm not from the United States, as I've already stated. And in case you'll now claim that bit wasn't directed at me - including it in a reply directed at me is pointless.
    BLeeTheKing
    Brad Paisley is a better guitarist than nearly any metal or rock guitarist. He could hang with the likes of Petrucci and even Guthrie Govan.  The fact that you can find nothing good in country music isn't anything against country music - it's against your ability to see good things in music you don't like.
    TLGuitar
    In regards to your second point, right, it is–as I've already stated–that I don't like it because what I find in it is repetitiveness and predictability, which I'm not a fan of in music. Second, I still don't see a definite indication to your first point (which is separate from the music itself anyway). I looked at what BillyBob65 wrote – first, I saw no indication that he played with Les Paul and Eric Johnson, only with BB King on one cover. Second, I listened to Cliffs of Rock City (which is an homage, not a collaboration) – it's not Country, so it's not even part of the second point, and while it has some fast runs, I don't see it revealing him having technical abilities equal to or better than Eric Johnson's, Guthrie Govan's or John Petrucci's.
    BLeeTheKing
    Try this song. Brad Paisley could be on E3 and not be out of his depth one bit.
    TLGuitar
    He's involved in video games as well? Cool.
    BLeeTheKing
    Autocorrect, but my point still stands. Brad Paisley isn't just "a capable guitarist", he's phenomenal. I'd put him on the same level as Eric Johnson, with no second thoughts.
    TLGuitar
    You seem to forget that the discussion was in essence about Country music, not his guitar skills. Fine, he can shred like the best of them. Still, the tracks I listened to off his "Play" album which I found somewhat interesting weren't even Country. If Beethoven were alive today, making mostly Bubblegum Pop but releasing an amazing symphony in between, I wouldn't have used his symphony as a reason to laud Bubblegum Pop. It has nothing to do with it, even if the person who created that symphony mostly creates Bubblegum Pop.
    BLeeTheKing
    I personally don't get how you can not like anything at all from the entire genre of country. It has some of the greatest songs ever written in it.
    TLGuitar
    I obviously haven't listened to all Country songs; I haven't even listened to "plenty" because I'm not an American so it doesn't have the basic cultural appeal to me, but what I did get to hear here and there just didn't grab my interest with its overly simplistic structure. Maybe if I weren't playing any instrument I would have had less attention to what's happening (or not happening) with the harmonic-melodic structure.
    BLeeTheKing
    Country is just as complex as most rock. There's no argument to be had there.
    TLGuitar
    Things that fall under "rock" (I'm not even referring to more specific genres such as Prog) have quite a wide range in sound and composition, so it often has a much looser definition to what is actually "rock". You can use tons of compositional techniques that are not sourced in Rock n' Roll but it falls under Rock music due to the instruments used.
    nemjeff13
    he has an accent from southern US. Our country is huge with all different accents.  His guitar playing is extremely country "shred" but holds his own in jazz, blues, and likely metal if needed.  Also they do wear cowboy hats and boots in certain areas, same as other cultures wear different things.  
    mobidguitar
    I saw this guy at cabellas in nashville. came up to him and started talking in this rude american southern accent... i was like.. "hey durr ya cotton pickin chicken dick". he says "what the hell man?" i said, "you gotta be down with the honky tonk boot scoot n boogie down durrr now y'hurr?" he said "whatever man". Best experience ever