Brad-Paisley-M-Review-No26BRAD PAISLEY


[Arista Nashville]

Since upping the ante with the musically and lyrically progressive American Saturday Night in 2009, Brad Paisley has positioned himself as a guitar-slinging messiah sent here to abolish a rift between red and blue states. He directly addresses that divide multiple times on Wheelhouse, a hodgepodge of pop culture references and patriotic salutes. On the bluesy “Accidental Racist,” notable for a bizarre spoken-word bridge by LL Cool J, he asks his faithful flock to move past their preconceptions. On the piano ballad “Those Crazy Christians,” meanwhile, he praises religious faith. Originally launched as a staunch traditionalist, Paisley now downplays his steel-and-fiddle style in favor of funky guitar riffs and walloping drums. Though he remains one of Nashville’s most musically literate artists, offering everything from surf-pop to soft rock, some of the old homespun magic is missed. Wheelhouse may be a bid for equality, but it’s his most polarizing move yet. –Blake Boldt


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