In 1999, the country scene was injected with a boost of charm and humor in the form of Brad Paisley when he released his first album, “Who Needs Pictures.” Continuing the pattern of a new album every other year, 8 years later he released his fifth album titled, “5th Gear” and simply blew me away. Not that his other albums weren’t good, but in my opinion “5th Gear” is his strongest album to date.
For those who don’t listen to Country music, I sympathize for you for the fact that you probably never even heard of Brad Paisley. Living in Northern Jersey, there is hardly any exposure for Country stars on TV or the radio. Don’t ask me how I got into Brad Paisley, but I’m sure glad I did. With his incredible writing talent, blend of heart-warming sweetness and knee-slapping comedy, and sensational guitar skills (understatement?), Brad Paisley is one of my favorite artists.
I love the album “5th Gear” for a few reasons. One, this is the album that really turned me to Country music so I have to give credit where it’s due. Two, although there are a few tracks I do skip, the majority of this album is made up of outstanding Country hits with a wide range. Some you can slow dance to, some you’ll find yourself tapping your toe to the rhythm, and all of them you’ll be singing along. Finally, I love this album because of the good nature and joy that Brad Paisley expresses through his songs. Every time I listen to the album, I always think that he has got to be one of the happiest guys in the world to write these type of songs… and in turn, the happiness is contagious and simply puts me in a better mood. Thank you Brad.
It was difficult choosing my favorite track on “5th Gear” but after some deep though I went with “Letter to Me.” I’m a sucker for songs and stories told in different perspectives. That’s why I praised Sugarland’s “Stay”, since it boldly went where less than a handful have gone before when singing about a loved one. In “Letter to Me” Brad Paisley sings about what advice he would give if he could write a letter to his past-self at 17. I think this is a topic that many of us have thought about at least once in our lives, like what do we wish we knew while growing up? or what would we have done differently having the knowledge we have now? This song contemplates these things in a beautiful ballad and a lot of the situations he mentions really hit home.
Paisley has a number of love ballads on “5th Gear” that contain so much heart and soul that makes you wish you can have one tenth of the feelings Paisley felt with his wife, Kimberly Williams. Such songs include: “It Did” – which retells the three happiest moments of Paisley’s life, “Oh Love” – a duet with superstar Carrie Underwood that details what love really is, and “With You, Without You” – where Paisley sings how he can be in love no matter where she is.
Now here’s what really amazes me. Brad Paisley isn’t just a one-trick pony. Along with his sensitive side, Paisley has a great amount of silly, humorous songs on the album that are usually the crowd favorites at his concerts. Starting off “5th Gear” appropriately with a song about a car, “All I Wanted was a Car” is simply about Paisley only wanting a car while his classmates were aspiring for bigger and better things.
Then in the very catchy next track, “Ticks”, Paisley suggests taking the girl he picked up at a bar into the woods to “check her for ticks.” This is a light and fun song with some funny lyrics and a rhythm that will make you want to get up and dance. Right after “Ticks” Paisley sings about MySpace and instant messaging in “Online”, a song about how much cooler he was to talk to online than in person.
He doesn’t let up with his free mind with “I’m Still a Guy.” This is one of Paisley’s anthems about a relationship that isn’t gushing with cute phrases and endearing choruses. Instead, he explains how even though he loves her and will do anything for her, he’s still just a guy and will continue to do things such as misinterpreting signs for sex and having a need to get into a fight once in a while. It’s tough not to chuckle at the truth expressed in this song.
In “Some Mistakes” Paisley sings about a few things in his past that he knows he shouldn’t have done but because they were just so much fun, he just wants to keep doing it. And in “Better Than This” Paisley paints a picture of him and a few buddies lying around a campfire and enjoying each other’s company and even though they all were content, things could always get better. Especially “if a busload of women, really good-looking women just suddenly pulled in here. And Ol’ Joe T. Garcia Showed up with fajitas and a hundred gallon keg of beer.”
Even though Brad Paisley has six full-length albums already out (and another at the end of this month) in ten years, he doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down. And I sure hope he doesn’t because he has truly put himself at the top of Country music. If he keeps this pace up he’ll certainly reach legendary status. Yes, he’s just that good.