Review Summary: More self-incriminating of a genre than the dumbest Facebook pic you were ever tagged in…until you remember it was probably fun at the time.
Why, in the name of all that is great and musically acceptable, are you, a proud Sputniker, reading a Brad Paisley write-up? You could be one of the few users to have previously rated a Paisley album, I suppose, but even then, this should receive no more than one hundred views, two hundred tops, damn it! It will, though, and you’re already here. I was kidding, anyway, or mostly kidding, so let’s get to it. I’ll try to make it worth your while.
Fun fact: chances are that Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams, were chilling out within a mile of where this very review was composed at the time of its composition. That’s right, one of country music’s most prominent names lives in my neighborhood, and once, a few years ago, his stupid mules made their way into my front yard. He should write a song about that incident…yeah, that would be an extraordinarily country move, and I can see it now: good neighbor Brad performing at the Grand Ole Opry, debuting his new jam about the time his mules wandered into the yard of the hipster kid down the street. It won’t happen, but hey, it would
be pretty country, because according to Paisley’s new ars poetica of the South, “it ain’t hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns, or Mama…but this is country music, and we do.”
That being said, This Is Country Music
is in no way, shape, or form a failure, though it often cannot decide whether to play off of its title’s quirky self-awareness or the mundane stereotypes of the genre it so blatantly champions. And that
being said, what appears to be indecision may actually be a critical genre flaw; face it, the topical stars at the heart of most country tunes are all name checked by the time we reach the album’s five-minute mark. Intentionally name checked, yes, but still, this is country music, and Brad Paisley’s interpretation of country music in 2011 is a fine half-and-half blend – fifty percent genuine self-parody, fifty percent disappointed emoticon self-parody.
As a sadistic reward for reading thus far, dear reader, let’s explore the Weezer-ific contours of “Camouflage,” an early-album ditty that’s symptomatic of every dangerous side-effect associated with such a jest-ifiable strain of music. Kevin, protagonist of the song’s narrative, gives his Chevrolet Cavalier a camo paint job and in doing so is suddenly greeted by what may be the campiest sing-and-repeat chorus of the year. We also hear, during a somewhat derivative guitar solo, a random outburst of “Git ‘er done!” Totally necessary…right? And, as if all this weren’t frustrating enough, we must remember that Paisley, that sly jokester next-door, means for these songs to be taken seriously and not-seriously at the same time. The more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Luckily, this corny approach to a perilously cheesy genre does
allow for two key things. First of all, it keeps the vomit in check, an accomplishment in and of itself, given the presence of such heinous cuts as the aforementioned “Camouflage.” More importantly, you begin taking these fifteen slices of honey-baked country ham at face value.
And then, once you reach this realization, friends of Sputnik, you can be like me, listening to This Is Country Music
through your best headphones – god forbid your judgmental peers hear
you – and not giving a damn to the reality that some of this is rather enjoyable. True, I doubt you’re biting your nails in anticipation to download a copy of this 2.5-worthy release, but I urge you to sift through some of its contents on YouTube, at least out of curiosity. There’s a spaghetti western-inspired instrumental track, “Eastwood,” for instance, which features whistlework from Dirty Harry himself. Sort of cool, entirely decent. Plus, there are songs like “Working on a Tan,” a potential dream-come-true for y’all guilty-pleasure seekers: awfully catchy, plain awful, yet somewhat irresistible.
At the end of the day, releases such as this don’t deserve to be hated on, nor do they deserve kaboodles of attention; hell, I only checked this out because the title – a genre-wide self-titled, you might say – piqued my interest. Turns out, country is country right now (surprise!), as wholly inoffensive as before, but nurturing a growing fascination with its own preoccupations. And now…now I play the dreaded waiting game: it’s just a matter of time before this cowboy sics his whistling collaborator on me. But hey, I was just being honest. Truth be told, it was okay