Brad Paisley Leaves Southern Comfort Zone on New Album
The world of country is officially abuzz now that we are less than a month away from the release of the latest effort from Brad Paisley, “Wheelhouse”. Nashville’s Golden Boy has already given his beloved fan base an introduction to the style of country they can expect to hear on the album with the release of “Southern Comfort Zone” late last year; the recent release of “Beat This Summer” gave fans a deeper look at the album’s style, which will be a more mature brand of Brad’s characteristic fun-loving approach to country music.
These two releases actually offer a lot of insight into what we can expect to hear from Paisley’s 8th studio album. In particular, “Southern Comfort Zone” is preparing listeners for a much more culturally aware brand of country music – one that will certainly be new for country listeners. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not going to see Brad forfeit his patriotism any time soon, but SCZ details how a traveling career in music has exposed Brad to a diverse world that has impacted his songwriting. SCZ acknowledges that not everyone sings the songs, drinks the drinks, and believes the beliefs that Brad does in “Dixieland”, but that just means that other cultures have something different to offer to his particular artistic vision.
There are also sure to be some major musical differences on the new album, as can be seen in the two singles. One of the biggest differences – and possibly the most interesting – is the inclusion of a supporting background chorus that can be heard on SCZ and BTS. And I don’t mean “chorus” as a “refrain”, I mean “chorus” as a full-on choir of singers. For country music, this is a huge departure from the usual fiddles, slide guitars and acoustic strumming. Additionally, Paisley has stated that this will be the very first album with which he will have total artistic control in terms of production, songwriting, etc…, so maybe he’s using this opportunity to use sounds and take risks in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed if a production company had the final say on the album. Whether these changes in musical direction will be appreciated by his fans or not, “Wheelhouse” is looking to be one of Brad’s most personal works to-date.
While many people fell in love with Brad’s whimsical country style because of his humor, I’m afraid to say that I think the days of “Online” and “Celebrity” might be long gone. We still saw glimmers of this frivolous songwriting in the last album with “Camouflage” and maybe even “Working on a Tan”, but these songs (featured on “This Is Country Music”) are still more complex than the goofy tracks that he released early in his career. While I am certain that there will still be a detectable tone of humor in the new album, it is more likely to be balanced with a serious message, or at least more sophisticated musical arrangements. Regardless, Brad knows that his sense of humor is what makes him so endearing to his fans, so I think that it will be a long time before he hangs up his “Ticks” Tony Lama cowboy boots and gets too serious for his fans.
True Paisley fans will welcome the new album with open ears and an open mind, and I think that careful listening is what will make “Wheelhouse” a special record for fans. We can already see hints of the new style in the first two singles, so a dozen tracks will be more than enough room for Brad to explore this new musical approach to the fullest. It should also be exciting to hear tracks like “I Can’t Change The World”, “The Mona Lisa” and even the seventh track, which appears to be Chinese characters for what Google believes means “Quiet female” (?). Nonetheless, these songs reveal a more culturally aware brand of country music that we honestly don’t hear too often. The album is officially released on April 9th and I for one can’t wait to hear how Brad decides to escape his “Southern Comfort Zone”.Jennifer