Album Review: Brad Paisley – Play (The Guitar Album)

Ben Cisneros | November 21st, 2008

Brad Paisley - PlayOnly in a strange world where Carrie Underwood’s rock-opera howling would win her the CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year award, where Brad Paisley’s tinny tone and pre-fab vocal interpretation would qualify him as country music’s finest male vocalist, and where Kenny Chesney’s pseudo-philosophic tropical-themed “Jimmy Buffet for soccer moms” music (and beach ball stadium tours) makes him the genre’s greatest entertainer, only in that absurd world would Brad Paisley’s Play be considered anything other than a complete disaster.

The idea behind the record is a simple one that goes something like this: “Brad Paisley is a ‘triple-threat’. He can sing, he writes, and he’s a monster guitar player. So let’s cut an instrumental record…uh…and we’ll throw some duets on there…and a couple radio cuts because…ya’know…who cares right?”

When a record is already confused and compromised before the first note is played, it’s bound to be a bumpy ride.

Play is actually perfectly bad in a way. Everything on the record is done competently, but nothing is done well. Brad has all the notes under his fingers, he just doesn’t have any spirit in his hands. “Huckleberry Jam,” the song that kicks off this bonanza of grinning stupidity, exemplifies Paisley’s approach to the guitar–“Play it fast, make it sound cool. Hey, look, a cute girl in the front row. I wonder if I should shave today or go for the three-day stubble. I’m so awesome. What was I doing again? Oh yeah, I was playing fast, hooray!”

If “Huckleberry Jam” typifies Paisley’s approach to guitar–that of a tasteless showoff–the next song on the record, “Turf’s Up,” introduces another element that is a key part of Play, namely Brad as imposter. What’s great is that his approach never changes, it’s all Brad being Brad, but this time it’s Brad being Brad playing surf music!

Awesome right? Brad thought so.

It’s tempting to go through every track, because, truth be told, the artless horror that is Play is kind of mesmerizing, and I think I’m suffering a touch of critical Stockholm Syndrome. I mean, “Kim” sounds like one of the songs that comes out of those wooden jukebox machines at greeting card stores when you press the picture of a meadow, “Departure” sounds like fantasy metal meets country with all the attitude of smooth jazz, “Kentucky Jelly” sounds like the soundtrack a racing car video game would switch to when the player takes a temporary shortcut through the backwoods, and I wont even attempt to write about “Cliffs of Rock City.”

Nowhere, though, is it more clear what’s wrong with Brad Paisley’s Play–and by extension the current state of mainstream Country Music–than when Brad duets with genuine American music legend B.B. King on the blues standard “Let the Good Times Roll.” Aside from being completely outsung and outplayed by an 80 year old man, Brad embarrasses himself by attempting to work in a genre that requires emotional heft when he has none; by flaunting himself alongside a legend that has a gravity Paisley either doesn’t have the shame or wherewithal to realize he should defer to; and by grinning mindlessly through a song that it doesn’t occur to him must be contextualized by real life in order to mean a damn thing.

There was a small part of me that hoped this record would be good. I thought, “Man, Paisley can play, ya’know, and if he’s bothering to do something as bold as an instrumental record, it might be good right?”

It wasn’t good. It wasn’t even bold when all was said and done.

Play is a decadent record and, consequently, an ugly one, but I’m not sure we can place all the blame on Paisley for this. An instrumental record this bad, this un-musical, this disengaged, with this many stupid throw away non-instrumentals…it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Play makes you wonder, “what was Brad Paisley thinking and who does he think he is?” My guess is that he was thinking the guitar work on Play is better than the guitar work on any other contemporary mainstream Nashville record. And, stunningly, he’s right. As for who he thinks he is? He probably thinks that he’s country music’s top male vocalist, one of its top entertainers, one of its best songwriters, and a legitimate torchbearer of its past. If you agree that Brad Paisley is all of those things, then I can tell you that Play is a fine record with blazing fast guitar work, an impressive variety of musical styles, and great songs that range from downright fun to touchingly heartwarming. What’s the harm in lying to the deluded right?

The harm is that it perpetuates the delusion, which is specifically what music is not supposed to do, and Mainstream Country Music has been peddling lies in order to perpetuate delusions for a long time now, with Play as one of the results. It’s an awful “instrumental” record, and exactly the one they deserve.

1 Stars

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  1. [...] is the better Brad Paisley album: 5th Gear or Play? Are you just trying to get Ben all riled up again? — [...]
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  1. Trailer
    November 21, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Wow, just wow. I’m glad ya’ll finally got a reviewer I disagree with most of the time. Shaking my head in a positive manner was getting tiresome. I’d say that was more a review of Brad than the album.

  2. Kelly
    November 21, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Did Aimee Mayo and/or Chris Lindsey have anything to do with this album, Ben??

  3. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I’m going to go ahead and stand up for Ben before this Ben-bashing gets out of hand. This was a terrible record. I felt like I was listening to the leftovers of some tracking session.

  4. TAYERS
    November 21, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Whoa. No more coffee for Ben, okay?

  5. Pierce
    November 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I’m not a huge Brad fan, but a moderate one. I, too, disliked this album, but my commercial guitar major roommate just LOVED it and he’s not a country music fan. He’s a blues guy, and he had nothing but compliments about the duet w/ BB and the rest of the album.

    I’m not a guitar afficionado, but maybe if you listen to the certain intricacies of his playing, you can appreciate it more. Or maybe my roommate just has poor taste! haha.

  6. Guy
    November 21, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    How do I become a reviewer / critic like Ben?

    I want in on this …. it seems like he’s having a great time.

    It must be great to have a forum to skewer bad records and commend good ones. I’ve written for publication and have music credentials. I think I might apply ….

  7. Trailer
    November 21, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Honestly, I’m not a big fan of the album either. It’s decent background music and I’d give it a 2 of 5. I see Ben liked Hayes Carll’s Trouble in Mind, so he’s got good taste and his actual review points about Play aren’t far off. There’s just too much agenda and not enough “fair and balanced.”

  8. Paula_W
    November 21, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I havent heard the record (nor will I) but I really really enjoyed reading this review. Whether the actual review is right or wrong, the writing is amazing! Go Ben!

  9. Drew
    November 21, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Well said… just a total waste of an album.

  10. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Considering that Ben once wrote an article praising the promise and impact of Taylor Swift, I don’t think agenda is something he’s real big on. I have every confidence that Ben went into this review with every intention of listening fairly. And the review reflects that.

    This album is an unfocused mess. And when Ben writes about what’s going through Paisley’s head, he’s playfully illustrating that lack of focus.

  11. Brady Vercher
    November 21, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    So is this to say there aren’t any positive aspects to the album at all?

  12. idlewildsouth
    November 21, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    This seems like more of an attack on Brad Paisleys character than it does his album. While ill admit there is alot of back and forth, I’d hardly call it a waste of an album, based on that alone.

  13. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    How is any of this an “attack” on Brad’s character?

    Brady, I would say that there really are no positive aspects to this record. It’s a trainwreck from the ground up. Ben acknowledges that Paisley can play well, and that he does so here. But I don’t think we’re in the business of awarding stars for merely capable or even highly skilled guitar work. As Ben said, this album has no spirit.

  14. Kelly
    November 21, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    No “Ben Bashing” going on from me, I just recognized a certain venom that I thought only came out when there might be a Mayo/Lindsey connection.

  15. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    I think Ben secretly has a crush on Aimee.

  16. Peter
    November 21, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I kinda liked “Departure” cos the band sounds real good backing him up. And I’m not generally a fan of BP’s playing (too many notes, not enough soul)

  17. idlewildsouth
    November 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    For quite the majority of the review there is more implication to Brad Paisleys arrogance towards his playing than there is his actual playing. Why arent we in the business of awarding stars for highly skilled guitar work? We are in the business of awarding stars for highly skilled writing, and singing, arent we? Why not guitar work?

  18. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Actually, I just gave a “Thumbs Down” to the skillfully written “Bacon Frying.”

    It takes more than being good at drawing to be an artist.

  19. Brady Vercher
    November 21, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    The Buck Owens duet, “Come On In,” is worth more than a few listens, “Cluster Pluck” was entertaining, and “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” isn’t a bad listen. It wasn’t my favorite album, so I didn’t pay close attention to it, but I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as you or Ben are putting on.

  20. Chris N.
    November 21, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Whew! I thought this was an outstanding record, one of my favorites of 2008. Now I know that I was actually “deluded.” Thanks, Ben!

  21. idlewildsouth
    November 21, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    You gave a thumbs down to it, from what I understood, more for the vocal performance than the writing. As I recall, you did praise the writers for a job well done.

    I thought “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” was very very good. Fantastic job.

  22. Ken
    November 21, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    One of the challenges facing Brad Paisley with this reviewer (and obviously Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney) is that Ben lives in the “absurd world” he refers to in the first paragraph. Whether he wants to accept it or not, country’s genre has widened immensely over the last ten years, welcoming a more mainstream pop sound, but also including artists like Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Bon Jovi and even bringing bluegrass bands like Nickel Creek into radio play. Country music doesn’t have to fit into a small box any more. Paisley makes no illusions that this is a pure country album- read any interview he’s done and he fully admits that he’s wanted to pull on every influence in his guitar-playing career and build it into the album. That means rock, today’s country, yesterday’s country and blues. I fully accept his review as his opinion, I just feel it is tainted because it doesn’t fit directly into his description of what an instrumental “country” album should be.

  23. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    As I recall, you did praise the writers for a job well done.

    As did Ben praise Paisley’s skill.

  24. Razor X
    November 21, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    “Whether he wants to accept it or not, country’s genre has widened immensely over the last ten years, welcoming a more mainstream pop sound, but also including artists like Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Bon Jovi and even bringing bluegrass bands like Nickel Creek into radio play.”

    Explain to me again why this is a good thing??

  25. Hollerin' Ben
    November 21, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Trailer

    “I’m glad ya’ll finally got a reviewer I disagree with most of the time.”

    Finally? You could have been disagreeing with me most of the time for like a year now!

    “I see Ben liked Hayes Carll’s Trouble in Mind, so he’s got good taste and his actual review points about Play aren’t far off. There’s just too much agenda and not enough “fair and balanced.””

    I sort of see where you are coming from, but not really. Fair, in my eyes, is about really listening to a record intently, working to understand it as best I can, and trying to express my findings as comprehensively as possible. That’s what I try to do in my reviews, and that’s the treatment I gave the Paisley record.

    I figure that a record like this can only appear when there is no sense of obligation to create meaningful music and no accountability when one fails to do so. I felt that this truly was mainstream country music’s perfect instrumental album, and that if I ignored that context that I’d be failing to communicate a key to really understanding this record.

    Pierce,

    “my commercial guitar major roommate just LOVED it and he’s not a country music fan. He’s a blues guy, and he had nothing but compliments about the duet w/ BB and the rest of the album.

    I’m not a guitar afficionado, but maybe if you listen to the certain intricacies of his playing, you can appreciate it more. Or maybe my roommate just has poor taste! haha.”

    Well I don’t know your roommate but…..

    I’ll say this for Brad, he plays fast and he can hit the notes. But I come from a line of trumpet players (strange I know) and there is a saying amongst trumpet players “It’s not what you know, it’s how you blow what you know”. I’m a huge blues fan, and if you listen to Brad’s playing (and singing) next to B.B., it’s clear that whereas BB is super purposeful and expressive, Brad is all over the place. Sound and Fury, signifying nothing, yaknow?

    Paula_W,

    Thanks!

    Jim,

    Thanks for backing my play here.

    Brady,

    So is this to say there aren’t any positive aspects to the album at all?

    B.B. King sounded incredible, which was positive, but that just served to highlite how terrible Brad was, which sort of kills that positive.

    I could have written a 20 Page thesis on this record because it was, in my estimation, a monumental failure, but in the space I had to work with, I thought that highlighting the positives, which were few and far between, would result in a skewered picture of the overall album.

    It’s like “what’s it like to be in prison?” “well, there’s terror, abuse, lonliness, loss of dignity, and overall dehumanization, BUT it’s fun to plink your fingernails against the bars sometimes. so it’s a mixed bag.”

    As far as the Buck duet, I though that the song was forgettable, Buck didn’t sound great, and the arrangment was all wrong. I felt that musically Paisley really didn’t capture what Buck was all about with that track.

    Kelly,
    No “Ben Bashing” going on from me, I just recognized a certain venom that I thought only came out when there might be a Mayo/Lindsey connection.

    Ha, I think I could make an argument that somehow, someway, they are at least partly to blame for this record. They must be…..

    idlewildsouth,
    “For quite the majority of the review there is more implication to Brad Paisleys arrogance towards his playing than there is his actual playing”

    You’ve got it all wrong, arrogant is how I’d describe his actual playing. It’s not like he is arrogant, but his playing is meek. His playing is arrogant. That was my review of it.

    Chris N.,

    “Whew! I thought this was an outstanding record, one of my favorites of 2008. Now I know that I was actually “deluded.” Thanks, Ben!”

    Sorry partner, them’s the breaks sometimes. nothing personal.

  26. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    If I were to give Big & Rich one star, Rascal Flatts one star, Jessica Simpson one star, the complains we’d be seeing would look very different. But make no mistake–there are no sacred cows here. The fact that a well-loved artist who happens to be a standout guitar player recorded a “guitar” album doesn’t mean it was good. And the fact that there may have been one or two songs on said record that weren’t absolutely terrible doesn’t meant the thing works.

    Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Bon Jovi…are not, and will never be, country.

    and even bringing bluegrass bands like Nickel Creek into radio play.

    When did Nickel Creek see radio play? Did I miss that era somehow?

    Country music doesn’t have to fit into a small box any more.

    Read some country music history–it has never fit into a small box. Country music, from the day Jimmie Rodgers and The Carters recorded their first notes, has had a divergent, diverse, and tangled family tree. To imply that country music has ever been contained within a small box is simply absurd.

    But the fact that country music exists in a big box doesn’t mean that it exists in a box big enough for all the music in the world to fit into.

  27. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Buck didn’t sound great

    Buck didn’t even sound like Buck to me.

  28. Trailer
    November 21, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    “Finally? You could have been disagreeing with me most of the time for like a year now!”

    Yeah, I’m not good at remembering names. :) I wanted to delete that line as soon as I hit submit. Your retort is fair enough. I actually enjoyed the review… just thought it went a tad over the line. If you’d ripped it to shreds in a technical manner, I probably wouldn’t have even read it… so in that regard – well done!

  29. Ken
    November 21, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Explain to me again why this is a good thing??

    Two main reasons for me. The first is that there is a wider variety of music introductions in all formats of country music than ever before. In the 1980’s there was traditional country and rebel country (Hank Jr) and that was about it. I for one appreciate the fact that there is a much wider variety of good music- not just good traditional country music- available to me to appreciate. Whether it’s Jamey Johnson, Cherryholmes or Carrie Underwood, each can be unique and superior in their own way. I’m not sure why they can’t all fit under a wide umbrella of country music without being degraded for it. Secondly, without that variety and the wider audience that the more modern country sound has brought to Nashville, most of the remaining labels wouldn’t be around and we would have even less music- even traditional country music- available to the listener. LIke it or not, popularity pays the bills for music to be made and today, the ones selling the most are like Taylor Swift’s release last week, pop-flavored. Her success will allow for her label to sign and release newer artists, however.

  30. Ken
    November 21, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Read some country music history–it has never fit into a small box. But the fact that country music exists in a big box doesn’t mean that it exists in a box big enough for all the music in the world to fit into.

    Jim, you contradict yourself. Does pop-country not fit into your box?

  31. Hollerin' Ben
    November 21, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Ken,

    “Whether he wants to accept it or not, country’s genre has widened immensely over the last ten years, welcoming a more mainstream pop sound, but also including artists like Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Bon Jovi and even bringing bluegrass bands like Nickel Creek into radio play. Country music doesn’t have to fit into a small box any more. Paisley makes no illusions that this is a pure country album”

    whoa, whoa, whoa. When did I ever, in the course of the whole review, criticize this record for not being country? I had no problem with Brad playing in all kinds of styles. I love surf music, I like jazz, and I’m a fiend for the Blues.

    The criticisms I made of this record weren’t about it not being country, it was about it not being good. Furthermore, even my criticisms of Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney had specific qualifiers about the quality of the music.

    You know who was a poppy vocalist that came into the genre with a big singing style and did a lot of material of questionable country authenticity? Patsy Cline. Know the difference between her and Carrie Underwood? Patsy had good taste.

    If what people are bringing to country music is good, there’s no problem with it.

  32. Chris N.
    November 21, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I hear what you’re saying, but you’re completely wrong.

  33. Hollerin' Ben
    November 21, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Ken,

    “In the 1980’s there was traditional country and rebel country (Hank Jr) and that was about it.

    seriously? Exactly where does Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Rogers, and Eddie Rabbitt fit into that dichotomy?

    If you say “Traditional Country” then we can’t be friends….

  34. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Ken, I never said that pop-country wasn’t country. I defend pop country all the time. It’s sort of my MO.

  35. Jim Malec
    November 21, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Kenny Rogers fits into a small but powerful genre–Music By Men With Awesome Beards.

  36. Ken
    November 21, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Ben, We can be friends… :)
    (You too Jim- great Kenny Rogers comment..)

  37. Brady Vercher
    November 21, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    but in the space I had to work with, I thought that highlighting the positives, which were few and far between, would result in a skewered picture of the overall album.

    To be accurate, though, the positives should be presented alongside the negatives, otherwise, it’s incomplete.

    It’s like “what’s it like to be in prison?” “well, there’s terror, abuse, lonliness, loss of dignity, and overall dehumanization, BUT it’s fun to plink your fingernails against the bars sometimes. so it’s a mixed bag.”

    I don’t think that metaphor actually works. If you were talking about the most beautiful woman on earth, other than a wart on the end of her nose, would you forget to mention the wart because she was flawless otherwise?

  38. Matt C.
    November 21, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Amen, Ben.

    Brad is clearly a gifted technical guitar player, but I’ve always felt bored listening to his guitar solos, even when his fingers are flying and I feel like I should be euphoric. This record went a long way in explaining that phenomenon. Brad Paisley’s guitar -playing is uninteresting for the same reason that Martina’s belting usually isn’t as evocative as it seems like it should be.

  39. Matt C.
    November 21, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    If you were talking about the most beautiful woman on earth, other than a wart on the end of her nose, would you forget to mention the wart because she was flawless otherwise?

    Or Jewel’s teeth…

  40. J.R. Journey
    November 21, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I have to agree that Brad Paisley is ‘country music’s top male vocalist, one of its top entertainers, one of its best songwriters, and a legitimate torchbearer of its past.’ But, even to my deluded tastes, I couldn’t find anything impressive about this album. Still, whether it was intentional or not, Ben’s disdain for this particular album comes off as real contempt for Brad Paisley the man, rather than just his latest CD. Bitter much?

  41. Hollerin' Ben
    November 21, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Brady,

    “I don’t think that metaphor actually works. If you were talking about the most beautiful woman on earth, other than a wart on the end of her nose, would you forget to mention the wart because she was flawless otherwise?”

    actually, it’s more like if you are talking about the ugliest woman in the world that looks horrible all around, but she has passably nice looking shoulders. Do you mention the shoulders, even though they don’t qualitatively alter appearance?

    That’s how I felt about the non-horrible (but not, in my eyes, especially worthwhile) tracks here. I felt that their inclusion wasn’t substantive enough to qualitatively alter the record so they didn’t warrant exploration in my review.

    Literally, B.B. was the only reason I even gave the record the one star that I did.

    If it makes you feel any better though, there was a ton of more bad stuff I would have liked to point out, but didn’t.

  42. Craig R.
    November 21, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Brad Paisley is a good country singer. He can be a great songwriter- in the same vain as Roger Miller. But every good to great singer makes a mistake, plays to his or her ego, misreads his or her ability. The real answer rest in his next recording and whether he gets on track or continues down this path. Paisley has a great deal of talent. I look forward to seeing him mature as a singer and songwriter, but to be honest his music has been slipping since “You Are The World.” Marriage and family can side track a singer. Paisley seems- at least musically- caught on a nail. That is why his music has come up short of late and sounds covertly misogynous.

    To be a great artist you have to make mistakes. Willie, Waylon, Pasty, Dolly, and even Hank made mistakes. So far this Paisley. He will do better the next time.

  43. Brady Vercher
    November 21, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    So then, in regards to my original question, you don’t think there’s anything positive about the record. Like I said, it wasn’t my favorite, I just don’t think it’s so terrible that B.B. is the only positive to be found on it. And despite the review being really well written and entertaining to read, it did come across as contempt for Paisley.

  44. Guy
    November 21, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Paisley seems to be a great guy … and very talented.

    His success has given him a sandbox to “play” in, and he’s doing it. Not everything he comes up with will be great, but when you’re given free rein ….

  45. Hollerin' Ben
    November 21, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Brady
    “So then, in regards to my original question, you don’t think there’s anything positive about the record.”

    I don’t think there’s anything that was a mentionable net positive in the context of the overall record, no. There were some moments in the acoustic tracks that were nice, and if I were reviewing those tracks as singles I might mention them, but overall, I didn’t think they made a difference.

    “And despite the review being really well written and entertaining to read, it did come across as contempt for Paisley.”

    Arrogance breeds contempt brother. I thought this was an exceedingly arrogant record, I felt contempt was the appropriate emotional response.

  46. idlewildsouth
    November 21, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Im still lost as to what about the record was arrogant. Its lack of focus? Its lack of ‘spirit’?

  47. Chris N.
    November 21, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I’m still not sure what’s so arrogant about it.

  48. Kelly
    November 21, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    That T-Shirt with the abstract heart shape he wore at the CMA’s was amazingly arrogant….like Terrel Owens level arrogant.

  49. Trailer
    November 21, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Well, there’s this one chord progression on track 3 that subliminally says “I can shred better than Hendrix and my wife is hotter than yours and I’ll sell more records than Garth and I got BB King to play on my record and I’m friends with Shat.” Didn’t you hear it? What a prick that Paisley.

  50. Hollerin' Ben
    November 21, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Chris N.

    “I’m still not sure what’s so arrogant about it.”

    I’d say that cutting an instrumental record where you play fast for seemingly no other purpose than to prove how fast you can play, superficially dabbling in other genres of music, and including self-indulgent rock ballads because you think they sound cool.

    Also, playing a duet with B.B. King on “Let the Good Times Roll” and not upping your game whatsover. Choosing to still bring “fun and games” Brad Pailsey to that party, that’s arrogance dude.

    When an artist works in other genres, or with legends, I say go the Elvis Costello route – reverence, humility and focus.

  51. idlewildsouth
    November 21, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    So making an album to display one of your strengths is arrogant? Wether or not you enjoyed the album, you said yourself that it is technically good playing. Is it arrogant for a wonderful singer to record an A Capella song?

  52. Razor X
    November 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    “That T-Shirt with the abstract heart shape he wore at the CMA’s was amazingly arrogant….like Terrel Owens level arrogant.”

    Huh??

  53. Peter
    November 21, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the cute dialogue at the start of Start A Band. Where KU drops his pick…that part was good and not arrogant at all

  54. Roger
    November 21, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    isn’t anybody working this afternoon?…you hit a nerve ben!!!!

  55. Chris N.
    November 21, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Is there some hidden emotional trauma in “Let the Good Times Roll” that I’m not catching? It’s kind of a fun song.

  56. Rick
    November 21, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Was is Brady the other day who mentioned he’d like to see reviews that are a little more subjective at The 9513? Well Brady, here you go! (lol)

    Brad Paisley is a skillful guitar technician but he just doesn’t seem really deep as Ben mentioned. The only Brad Paisley album I ever owned was his first one that I received as a gift, and I quickly traded it in at the local music store. “Me Neither” was a fun song with fine guitar picking, but that was it. I’ve had no interest since….

    Its too bad Keith Urban didn’t record a guitar instrumental album back during his days with “The Ranch” as the song “Clutterbilly” borders on genius. Brad should have listened to that song repeatedly for creative inspiration prior to recording this exercise in self-indulgence. Fortunately for Brad his fans won’t care!

  57. Brady Vercher
    November 21, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Did I just get mistaken for Drew? And I believe he wanted objectivity rather than subjectivity.

  58. Chris N.
    November 21, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Ironically, that was me.

  59. Rick
    November 21, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Ooops, sorry Brady! Chris, I agree with you! Spirited, opinionated reviews are so much more fun to read than the cool, objective ones. Once the reader gets a take on the author’s personal tastes and preferences the reader can apply a mental “contextual overlay” to gain an more objective picture. Well, I try to do that anyway….

  60. Nicolas
    November 21, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Interesting that this got such a low rating, since no other rating has been negative — they’ve all been positive or 3 1/2 stars or higher

  61. Courtney
    November 21, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Ben, you are my hero.

  62. Hollerin' Ben
    November 21, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Chris N.

    “Is there some hidden emotional trauma in ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ that I’m not catching?”

    Aside from the standard emotional trauma of life in general, lets see, what kind of emotional trauma could possibly contextualize a blues song…hmmmm….nope, nothing comes to mind.

    The Blues is born of smooth sailing and frivolous good times right? I mean, I’m pretty sure all those blues guys were homecoming kings who grew up and married movie stars.

    *note – I don’t hold this against Brad, the problem isn’t that he is a homecoming king who grew up and married a movie star, the problem is that he performs “Let the Good Times Roll” as if the rest of us are.

  63. Chris D.
    November 21, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Yeah, I was going to get this album, but when I heard some of the tracks, I just didn’t like it. I was never a fan of his instrumentals anyway, I much prefer bluegrass instrumentals, like those of Nickel Creek. (Did I miss them on the radio too?)

    Anyway, I agree with the review Ben, Brad is way too cocky, at least Kenny Chesney tries to be humble. I like Brad, but he’s not immune to putting out bad material.

  64. Stephen H.
    November 21, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Um, the lyrics in “Let the Good Times Roll” ARE basically smooth sailing and frivolous good times, with almost no emotional trauma. (I’m assuming it’s the same song as the original King song as I read the lyrics.) Trying to sing it WITH emotional trauma would be even more frivolous, in my opinion.

  65. Hollerin' Ben
    November 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Stephen H.

    “Um, the lyrics in “Let the Good Times Roll” ARE basically smooth sailing and frivolous good times, with almost no emotional trauma. (I’m assuming it’s the same song as the original King song as I read the lyrics.) Trying to sing it WITH emotional trauma would be even more frivolous, in my opinion.”

    sure, but they need to be contextualized by the weight of real life to mean a damn thing. I’m not advocating some kind of whiny emo performance to indicate “emotional trauma”, quite the contrary.

    B.B. King’s performance of “Let the Good Times Roll” is robust specifically because there is a sense that he’s advocating letting the good times roll as an calculated affirmation in the face of life’s adversities.

    Paisley’s sounds like he wants to let the good times roll because letting the good times roll is awesome, and he sort of assumes that letting the good times roll is the natural state of things anyhow.

  66. Kelly
    November 21, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Razor X – I was just making a relatively silly reference to Paisley’s idiotic t-shirts. Given that we were trying to figure out what was so “arrogant” about Paisley at that point, I figured I would throw that out there…those things are hideous.

  67. idlewildsouth
    November 21, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    I dont believe ive ever seen anything so subjective and presumptious before. Im still lost on how recording an album that focus’ on one of your three strengths is arrogant.

  68. Rick
    November 21, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Idlewildsouth, its kinda like this as far as Ben is concerned:
    Amber Digby = Good
    Brad Paisley = Bad
    Their respective album reviews just reinforce these basic presuppositions…. (lol)

  69. Amazace
    November 21, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    True Paisley is fast and technically on the money but this CD lacks a good groove and feel to it. My favorite track was his tribute song “Les is More”. Personally I prefer a more melodic style of playing with an in your pocket groove. Give me Redd Volkaert, Albert Lee(who were both featured on this CD) or Bill Kirchen anyday.

  70. Razor X
    November 21, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I had absolutely zero interest in listening to this album when I first heard about its release, but now I’m going to have to give it a try to see if it is really this bad.

  71. Jordan Stacey
    November 21, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I’ve listened to almost all of the tracks online now and I’m not overly impressed (though I’ll probably end up getting it if i find it for cheap because I hate not having all the albums of an artist….the stupid completionist in me). I also was never really impressed with Brad’s solos in his music before so this album didn’t sound like it’d be good when they announced it. Despite what Keith Urban said at the CMA’s I hop he makes an insturmental album one day as his solos are much more interesting.

  72. S
    November 22, 2008 at 1:41 am

    I’m not a huge fan of this album, but I do kind of wonder why this website even exists in its current form if you guys tend to hate the vast majority of today’s country music. I dislike modern rap/hiphop/whatever, even though I like a bunch of the old stuff. But I respond to that by not buying or listening to the new material. I don’t go set up a website dedicated to it, and then write negative reviews of every album that comes out.

    There seems to be a small sliver of country you guys like, and it’s not well-synced with what’s popular right now. That’s completely fine. But why not just focus on that, so you can actually be doing a service to the people who have similar tastes? Now, I don’t think you’re serving anyone (except snark fans, I suppose) well. The people who like modern country will disagree with your reviews, the people who don’t will be told they won’t like something they already know they won’t like.

    Seek out those albums you do like, and write about them. Tell the world about this great stuff they’re missing. Don’t waste your (or our) time on the material you aren’t going to like. I’m not saying you should never have a negative review, but when it’s obvious that you’re going to dislike anything from an entire category, why bother even reviewing it?

  73. Jason
    November 22, 2008 at 4:05 am

    gonna come straight ut, I completely disagree. I gave it a 5 star rating because I believe that this album portrays the same unique outlook on the modern day genre as Sugarland’s single “Stay”. In my opinion conformaty is what stains the genre today and this album breaks away from that very much.

    In adition I go with what S said, it sounds like you had this album reviewed before you even listened to it, so why even bother…this album may not be “as good” as I put it off to be in my review, but its much better than you guys give it credit for.

  74. Kelly
    November 22, 2008 at 5:07 am

    S:

    I am not speaking for the staff here at the 9513, just myself. While you were taking the time to give career advice to the 9513, did you bother going back and looking at the reviews over the last few months to see what has actually garnered a positive or negative review? To suggest only a “small sliver” of Country Music is given a postitive review of this site is unfair and simply ignorant, which is sad, as the proof of that is available at the click of a mouse on this site. Top 40, Bluegrass, Honky-Tonk, Old School Legends and Bright New-comers have all recieved both positive and negative reviews in the last few months alone. By using terms like “Modern Country” or “Todays Country”, you are using the same narrow scope that you so lazily accuse the site of using. “Today’s Country” is being more fairly represented here than ANYWHERE else on the web. You are actually referring to whatever is “Popular” and most likely played on radio and CMT, and again, that represents such a “small sliver” of Today’s Country.

    I know that much of the popular, Top 40 Country Music of today isnt given a favorable rating on this site, but guess what? It’s because the writers dont like that given song or album, nothing more, nothing less. Guess what else? They will tell you why they do or dont like it (which is good, I would think?)? Dont like the in-depth analysis of a given song? Dont like your fave Top 40 artists recieving serious discussion on the merits of their work? Too bad homey. This isnt a fan club or a support group. There are tons of sites for that. Thankfully, this isnt one of them.

  75. Tad
    November 22, 2008 at 5:38 am

    I don’t have much of a fondness for Paisley, or modern top-40 country music for that matter, but that review wasn’t fair in the least.

    Part of Paisley’s appeal, so far as I can see, is that he’s not one of the interchangable “pretty boys” targeted by Nashville to housewives all around this great land. The guy has a personality, and that alone puts me on his side against the Keith Anderson’s of the format. The fact that he decided to put out an instrumental album, even one compromised by duets and radio material, shows a bit of guts.

    But this willingness to experiment with modern country formula doesn’t translate to the record according to your review. I’ll grant you that, and I’m not planning on buying the record any time soon. But the title is “Play,” not “Experiment,” and I think you’re going a little hog wild with scorn over what seems to be a fun side trip for Paisley.

    I mean, you’re criticizing him for not performing up to B.B. King’s standards? Yeah, only Paisley and a few million other musicians have failed to reach those heights. I’m just saying that the next time you feel the need to dole out a one-star review (complete with “modern country sucks” diatribe – yeah, we all agree) give it to a record that’s contributing to country’s blandness, not a record (and an artist) that’s (even moderately) shaking things up.

    God, I can’t believe I’m defending Brad Paisley…

  76. Steve Harvey
    November 22, 2008 at 7:04 am

    I thought this record was a mixed bag – I really liked about half of it (Come On In, Start A Band, Let The Good Times Roll, Cluster Puck, What A Friend We Have In Jesus) and was kind of indifferent to the other half. I enjoyed it a lot more than anything Paisley’s put out since Mud on the Tires.

  77. Paul W Dennis
    November 22, 2008 at 7:28 am

    I’m Stunned at this review

    It’s been so long since a mainstream country artist issued an instrumental album that it apparently catches people completely off-guard.

    While PLAY is not a five star album (4 or 4.5 in my estimation), it certainly is a change from the usual pablum played on country radio today. The picking is excelent and varied and songs such as “Cluster Pluck” certainly highlight some different approaches to the music.

    Several of the leading pickers in our area have raved about the album (including one fellow who has Barbara Streisand and Barbara Mandrell’s touring bands on his resume). It also has proven of interest to some of my friends who are not into country music

    One problem with all instrumental albums is that most people are more attuned to vocals and get bored with instrumental albums. PLAY album spaces a few vocals and some chatter in the mix to allieve this problem.

    As for the vocals:

    “Start A Band” is amusing and while I’m not especially fond of Keith Urban, he acquits himself well here

    “Come On In” should be issued as a single. Someone commented that they didn’t recoginize Buck Owens voice when they hear it. I first heard this song on the radio before buying the album, and, without hearing the start of the song, recognized Buck’s voice the instantl he started singing. Buck lost part of his tongue due to (I think) an oral cancer, so his phrasing became thicker in later life but it’s still Buck. I think Buck would be pleased with how the track came out and to hear Buck on mandolin and dobro !!

    “Waitin’ On A Woman” of course was a huge hit and even better video

  78. Chris D.
    November 22, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    *Claps for Kelly*

    You hit it right on the head Kelly, I completely agree.

  79. J.R. Journey
    November 22, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    I too completely agree with Kelly … good or bad, the reviewers on this site tell you exactly what they think and then give you an open commenting blog to voice your own opinion. So I don’t agree with Ben’s review – I am more on board with Paul’s assessent. But this is still a great site for discussion, whether you like what the reviewer is saying or not …

  80. CMW
    November 22, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Ben:

    Must you ruin all good things.

  81. mikeky
    November 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    brad paisley has reached the point where he seems to think that he can put out a cd of nothing but him farting and reading ecclesiastes and the unwashed masses will reward him with accolades and the immediate strapping-on of kneepads. alas, no. aside from the buck owens duet (it’s always good to hear buck owens) and being completely outclassed by b.b. king (aside from willie nelson, who isn’t?), this cd is sort of pointless. i would have preferred the farting.

  82. Amazace
    November 22, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Not enough mustard in Nashville to cover that hot dog…

  83. Razor X
    November 22, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Why all this hate for Brad Paisley? I won’t pretend that he’s the greatest thing to ever happen to country music but he’s head and shoulders over most of the people who are regularly hitting the charts these days.

  84. Todd
    November 22, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    While I haven’t purchased this record, nor will I(I like Paisley but HATE instrumental albums), this review seems to be more about the idea of Brad doing an instrumental album than the album itself to me.

  85. Bobby
    November 23, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I don’t dislike Brad, but he can barely sing without pro-tooling the hell out of his voice. Some songs, he nearly sounds as flat as Kenny Chesney, and even his best singing is only sometimes serviceable (I thought he sounded near perfect on “Letter to Me” save for some autotuning near the end). His guitar playing is very frenetic but lacking in character; it’s just a bunch of fast notes strung together. His songwriting is hit and miss, but when he’s good — like “Letter to Me”, “Who Needs Pictures”, etc. — he’s *good*. His melodies, just like his lyrics, are hit and miss; between that and his fairly dull guitar style, I’m actually afraid to buy this album, as ballsy as it is.

  86. Mike Parker
    November 23, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I don’t have much to compare this too- I’m horrible at lead guitar, and the only other instrumental album I own is Wariner’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” I didn’t dislike “Play” so much as I was bored by it. I felt like I was waiting through a long guitar part for the next verse. I liked the duets with King and Urban, and the rest just felt like I was listening to my buddies goofing off through a jam session. To be fair, my buddies are pretty good guitar players.

    Like Wariner’s effort, “Play” is just not appealing to me as a country music fan, because for me, what makes great country music is lyrics. I imagine guitar players of any genre would eat this album up, but it wasn’t for me.

  87. Matt B.
    November 23, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Bobby,

    I doubt that Brad uses autotuning much but many people use pitch correction.

  88. Razor X
    November 23, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    What’s the difference between autotuning and pitch correction?

  89. Matt B.
    November 23, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Pitch correction is the process of correcting the intonation of an audio signal without affecting other aspects of its sound whereas an audio processor for correcting pitch in vocal and instrumental performances is called an autotuner.

    99% of the acts recording albums today use Pitch Correction software in the studio. Many, like Rascal Flatts, use it live.

    Autotuning is most famously heard on Cher’s “Believe” and on a plethora of hip-hop songs currently popular (Lil’ Wayne’s “Lolipop” T-Pain’s stuff). It’s decidedly overused and as of now, not used too much in country music. It’s is decidedly ‘robotic’ and easy to spot.

  90. corey
    November 23, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    i would have preferred that the album contain more material like “throttleneck” off of 5th gear, but nonetheless I like most tracks on Play. I really like “departure” and “what a friend we have in Jesus”. I also like the fact that many of the songs are different but all still have that brad paisley sound that is recognizable on most of his radio stuff.

  91. Matt B.
    November 23, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    I just remembered Strait’s “Stars On The Water” uses the robotic “Autotuning.” and that’s a fine example of what the difference is.

  92. captm8
    November 23, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    I really get tired of the Texas Music camp trying to put down today’s country music. Wake up and smell the roses guys. Things have changed. Country music let in the western music to the genre several years ago. They never owned country music. Country music continues to grow and evolve. I’ve been around longer than you guys. I’m from the Hank Williams, Sr era and I love Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. They are the new face of country. Get use to it or go to another genre.

  93. Kelly
    November 24, 2008 at 9:28 am

    I get tired of Mainstream-pop apolgists claiming that only bitter Texans can have the nerve to not like a Top 40 album….

  94. Jim Malec
    November 24, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Auto-Tone most certainly is a pitch correction plugin/rackmount–at least according to its Anatares:

    “Hailed as a “holy grail of recording,” by Recording magazine (and adopted worldwide as the largest-selling audio plug-in of all time), Auto-Tune corrects intonation problems in vocals or solo instruments, in real time, without distortion or artifacts, while preserving all of the expressive nuance of the original performance – with audio quality so pristine that the only difference between what goes in and what comes out is the intonation. All with a user-interface that is a model of clarity, speed and ease-of-use.

    For most common pitch problems, Auto-Tune Evo’s Automatic Mode instantaneously detects the pitch of the input, identifies the closest pitch in a user-specified scale (including minor, major, chromatic and 26 historical and microtonal scales), and corrects the input pitch to match the scale pitch. A Retune Speed control lets you match the retune rate to virtually any performance style.”

  95. Bobby
    November 24, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Matt B., thanks for the correction. Yeah, that George Strait version of “Stars on the Water” is almost unlistenable because he uses pitch correction *and* autotuning. Brad definitely uses too much pitch correction then.

  96. Joe
    November 24, 2008 at 10:45 am

    It’s not entirely clear to me who the intended audience for this album was.

    (It must be Monday, because that’s a pitifully bad sentence and I don’t care enough to fix it; just proud enough to point it out!)

    My hunch — because the (unrelentingly catchy and “mainstream”) lead single is being sold at country radio, because it’s biggest PR asset so far has been the B.B. King/Buck Owens duets, plus the fact that the recent hit “Waitin’ on a Woman” is included now on no less than three Paisley albums — is that the intention was to sell this “artsy” coloring-outside-the-lines instrumental album to folks who don’t ordinarily buy instrumental albums.

    So I’m wondering, because I haven’t yet heard it, how does “Play” perform in that context?

    People who can genuinely appreciate an instrumental album will obviously see the faults of a record like this one but for fans of Paisley and mainstream country music this album (right or wrong) amounts to a brave step, though only within the confines of the mainstream industry.

    One of Paisley’s biggest faults as an “artist,” ironically, is that he’s worked “the industry” masterfully since the very beginning of his career: got a hit song or two under his belt as a songwriter at about the time he signed the record deal; put out some safe mainstream singles, but still preached a reverence for history (and religion) by harkening to a Roger Miller era and closing each album with a gospel tune; resisting every call to expand beyond the business of “mainstream country music.”

    This album, I suspect, is just another step toward that Country Music Hall of Fame induction, or whatever the ultimate goal of someone who refuses to step outside the mainstream, like Paisley, aspires to.

    I honestly don’t know if he has ever led us to believe he was particularly … authentic, in any way. The sentiments in the singles, be they up-tempo or ballad, have all seemed calculated. There’s never seemed any effort to associate himself directly with the lyrics or sentiments in his music.

    I suppose I’m rambling now, but I’m left wondering with regard to this new album …

    If the country music business today is as fragmented as we all believe it to be, then perhaps an instrumental album released by a major label most likely intended for the mainstream country music listener perhaps should be judged in that context alone.

  97. Matt B.
    November 24, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Jim,

    You’re right about that. What I meant by differentiating the two was to say “autotune” the way that most people associate it (IE “Stars On The Water” or “Believe”) is different than 99% of the world uses it or how it was likely intended to be used. So while Autotuning is indeed ‘pitch correction,’ it’s hardly used the way we all know it to be used.

  98. C. Eric Banister
    November 24, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Matt B., I think what you are thinking of is called a vocoder. Auto-Tune is a brand name that has become synonymous with pitch-correction (like Kleenex has for tissue). The Vocoder is the device (now just software) that gives it that robot sound. It was big in some art-rock circles int he ’70s and I think Cher is credited (blamed?) with bringing it back full swing in the ’90s.

    As far as “Play” goes, I haven’t heard it yet, but I know one reason that the vocal performances sound shoe-horned in is because they are. If you go back a year or so ago and read interviews where Paisley talks about the album he mentions that it will be all instrumentals, no vocals at all. I interviewed Redd Volkaert recently and he played on “Play” (on “Clusterpluck,” I believe) and he told me Paisley had the same problems with the album as Volkaert has (Volkaert is an incredible Tele player for those who aren’t familiar), and that is that the label put the pressure on to put on vocal tracks to have something to push to radio. On the recently aired “Behind the Video” show on GAC, Paisley talks about doing the version of “Waitin’ On A Woman” with Griffith and that it would go on a “Deluxe version” of 5th Gear. I assume since it is on here and since I haven’t seen a deluxe edition, that idea was scrapped and some of the songs from that project moved over to “Play.” I haven’t heard the album, so I can’t judge the quality, but that might go a little way toward explaining how this went from “instrumental guitar project” to, apparently, a discombobulated mess.

  99. Matt B.
    November 24, 2008 at 11:39 am

    C. Eric,

    I am not thinking of a vocoder. “Autotune” as most people know of it now is used primarily via the software Jim mentions. It was first used by Cher and Kanye West’s new record uses that instead of the vocoder.

  100. Matt B.
    November 24, 2008 at 11:40 am

    I have seen a deluxe version of “5th Gear” that has “Waitin’ On A Woman” on it @ multiple stores.

  101. Katie
    November 24, 2008 at 11:46 am

    I’m weighing in kind of late, but wow, I had a totally opposite (and what was, for me, unexpected) reaction to this album. I thought it was incredibly cohesive — notice how all the songs with lyrics are about music and the joy of playing it — and rather than arrogance, the overwhelming takeaway for me was the gratitude and almost childlike glee in the notion that Paisley gets to make a living doing something that brings him such pleasure. And while he probably could have made a straight-up solo instrumental album, instead he packs it with guest stars he clearly admires, and even takes pains to introduce his audience to pickers they may not know.

    I agree that the very idea of an instrumental album is kind of inherently self-indulgent, but I don’t think that should preclude them from ever existing, and I felt like Paisley tried to mitigate that on Play in every conceivable way without sacrificing its concept.

  102. C. Eric Banister
    November 24, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for the info Matt, I’m a little rusty on my Cher knowledge :) Disregard my entire post since I was wrong on both counts.

  103. Matt B.
    November 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Heh,

    No worries, I think anyone who actually knew what a vocoder is/was would make the same mistake (and this song compromises what little Cher knowledge I have ;)

    As for the Paisley thing, I think it stuck on into the CD…

  104. dudley
    November 24, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    C. Eric Bannister, for what it’s worth, I think the reason for any confusion over the use of vocoder vs. autotuning on Cher’s “Believe,” is the producers’ initial claim that they used a vocoder to create that smoothed-over, electronic sound. You can read about that and the follow-up (in which it was revealed that they actually used Antares but didn’t want to reveal a trade secret) here:

    http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb99/articles/tracks661.htm

    The one point that Matt B. makes that I would dispute is that the use of Antares AutoTune started with Cher’s “Believe.” It pre-dated that, as I believe the product was launched in 1997 or 1998. “Believe” became a hit in 1999.

  105. Jim Malec
    November 24, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    We’re talking about the same thing here. Rap fans might think of Auto-Tune as the “robot” sound, but that is incorrect, and if you are in a Nashville studio and someone starts talking about Autotune, they are going to be talking about pitch correction.

  106. Rick
    November 24, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    This is far more discussion than “Boring Brad” Paisley and his music deserve. Now Dale Watson would be another matter entirely…

    Is it just me or does anyone else find the song name “Cluster Pluck” an attempted clever innuendo that goes too far? What’s next on the agenda, Pluck You? Crikey…..

  107. Matt B.
    November 24, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Jim,

    Technically, you’re right but if someone says “Autotune” I instantly think of that robot sound as does most of the world. I would rather think of the other term “Pitch correction” as something that’s a studio tool.

  108. Kristi
    November 24, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    S: right on…

    Seek out those albums you do like, and write about them. Tell the world about this great stuff they’re missing. Don’t waste your (or our) time on the material you aren’t going to like. I’m not saying you should never have a negative review, but when it’s obvious that you’re going to dislike anything from an entire category, why bother even reviewing it?

    If they did that, no one would visit this site. If people aren’t listening to this above the fray, not mainstream, emotional, true grit, music they speak so highly of than why on earth would anyone read about it?!?!

    So, you see, they need the mainstream cliche songwriters or they have nothing to write about…

  109. Josh
    November 25, 2008 at 1:46 am

    I’m definitely with Katie here…I think Paisley simply wanted some fun into everything he’s gained from guitar playing. I know for myself as a beginner/intermediate player, i simply will hang my guitar up for sale and cry…he’s too damn good and had loads of experience/guidance behind him. I also agree with some comments already about him being too fast/many notes and no soul/no heart judgment. I’ve tried my hand on tabs that are correct according to the songs and can’t get myself around some things that takes place in my ears. :P Bottom line, it’s a Paisley doing what he loves: play guitar. I would give anything to play that well and fast, but I also acknowledge that he should pay more attention to soul and profess his complete artistry/muse in that regard. A question: what happens if this album PLAY actually earns nominations/awards in the years ahead? Y’all still gonna trash out the awards?? :P

  110. Chris N.
    November 25, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Dale Watson could play as well as Paisley, he just chooses not to out of mercy toward the world’s guitarists.

  111. TAYERS
    November 25, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I think this is the first review Kristi has ever read on the is site….

  112. Kristi
    November 25, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    actually, it’s the second, and it’ll be the last…

  113. Brian
    November 25, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    This was a hatchet job review of a person rather than a record. I don’t have a problem with negative reviews but from the way the review was written the album appears secondary to the critic.

    I think saying you’re never going to read the site again is overly dramatic. I don’t agree with everything on the site, but I have agreed with Ben numerous times on his reviews of albums and singles. I’m just disappointed that this review falls under his usual fair writing. I’ve read through the review twice now trying to change my opinion of the point of view, and it just feels way to much like an attack.

    Also, the people tripping over themselves to defend Ben are being as overly dramatic at times as those bashing Ben.

    Ben- I appreciate what you’ve done/do review wise but this just fell short in my opinion of your usual stellar writing.

  114. Brian
    November 25, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    As far as the BB thing goes- who in music wouldn’t sound minimal dueting with him in his genre?

    It’s akin to a person challenging Tiger Woods to a golf match and then getting bashed for not winning a hole. The reward is just in playing with the person. I don’t see a problem with an artist devoting a track to their own benefit. Let Brad indulge himself with the album and single in general

  115. Cole
    November 26, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    TINY TONE?!?!?!?!?! ARE YOU MAD?

  116. captm8
    November 28, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Kelly

    I have always been a country music fan. I was country before Texas music was country. So if we want to be pure country and not include other music into the country genre, then we must leave out Texas music. We started to let in Texas music when people started to call the genre country and western. Brad and Carrie do not have to be included in the genre they are the genre. If you don’t like the genre then leave and create your own genre. How many of your artist have been ask to join the Opry, the real test of a real country artist.

  117. Kelly
    November 28, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Captm8: First of all, nothing you said made much sense, as I doubt you are somehow a governor of countryy music who decides to “let in” or “let go” of certain sub-genres. Second of all, Craig Friggin’ Morgan is in the Opry, so I am ok with Robert Earl Keen or Jerry Jeff Walker or even Aaron Watson or Jackson Taylor not being in the Opry…

  118. captm8
    November 28, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Kelly

    I am just a very very old country music fan. I have seen and heard a lot of country music over the years. Yes I listened to the Opry on the radio before TV was around. I just felt that there was a need for a little old country wisdom on this blog. Just listen to your elders and you might learn something. I am old and my typing may not be very good and I may not express myself well but I would never use bad language to express myself. I know you are young because you don’t know about the country music past and no lady would use the language you use.

  119. Rick R.
    November 30, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Hey,

    I believe what Hollerin’ Ben said was correct. I have really liked Brad since that first album. I like most of his instrumentals, but I felt that some of it on this album started seeming repetative. Besides, you all shouldn’t be ripping on Ben. He is reviewing the album and it is pretty much his evaluation of the album. I don’t particularly like alot of today’s artist (Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, being two of them). Even Carrie Underwood isn’t one of my favorites and she is from my homestate. Give me some Merle Haggard or Willlie Nelson and I am set.

  120. Mayor Jobob
    December 1, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I wouldn’t call this album a car crash, but this is background noise compared to Throttleneck, Timewarp, and The Nervous Breakdown.

  121. Mayor Jobob
    December 1, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Let me add that with this album as well as with Garth’s “The Life of Chris Gaines”. I wish he had made better use of his time!

  122. Dan Milliken
    December 9, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    I have no comment on the album, but “rock-opera howling” is a very apt way to put a lot of Carrie Underwood’s singing – so apt that I’m surprised no one else has characterized it that way yet. (Again, that’s not to say she couldn’t sing country very well if she put her efforts toward that, because I think she could.)

    Also, regarding this Kelly comment:
    “Craig Friggin’ Morgan is in the Opry, so I am ok with Robert Earl Keen or Jerry Jeff Walker or even Aaron Watson or Jackson Taylor not being in the Opry…”

    Amen.

  123. Hollerin' Ben
    December 9, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    hey thanks Dan. I do my best.

  124. Doggie Hoss - Ohio
    December 20, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Is it remotely possible that Senor Cisneros is a bit jealous of Mr. Paisley? It is a tribute to the great leisure and freedom of America that such pompous critics are given a forum for this much self-righteous vitriol. Play is just a CD of guitar music. If you weren’t sufficiently entertained by it, so what? Get a life. I’m only wondering why I wasted 10 minutes of my life getting sucked into this site and bothering to vent. I’ll know better next time!

  125. Hollerin' Ben
    December 20, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    “Is it remotely possible that Senor Cisneros is a bit jealous of Mr. Paisley?”

    My father is Señor Cisneros. Call me Ben.

    “Play is just a CD of guitar music. If you weren’t sufficiently entertained by it, so what?”

    you and I differ on the purpose and importance of Country Music.

  126. Chris N.
    December 20, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Ben’s name is an anagram for “Senor Benics”

  127. Rob
    December 26, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the utterly terrible album art. Someone got paid to come up with that piece of shit.

  128. Doug
    February 7, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I am not a huge country fan, but appreciate BP’s guitar playing. I read his article in Guitar Player Mag and went straight out to buy his CD. I am blown away by his playing! I think this CD could be guitar record of the year. The track that is in honor to Robben Ford is simply stunning. The surf track is cool, and so is the track that features all the legends. Buy it, now!
    You will not be sorry. I think this reviewer has lost his mind, and has zero knowledge of music.

  129. mel
    March 4, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    i think it one of his best the real critic gave it from a C+ to an A+ it was also on many critic best ablum of the year i love this ablum it got hard core playin on it wich i love i love he make another one in the future that would be awesome so don’t be dissin on brad guitar skills just cause u can’t play as good

  130. Ian
    April 5, 2009 at 5:14 am

    What a pathetic review. Pretty much every other review that I have read, including “Rolling Stone”, favoured this album. I liked it, my friends like it, and everyone else that I have spoken to likes it.

    This sounds like some “hotshot” kid who thinks he can immitate Simon Cowell by tearing other artist’s work to pieces so he can crave attention.

    Ben, go and read some other reviews. You will see that none of them attack any artist’s personality. What you have done is unprofessional and verging on immature.

  131. dsmith
    June 6, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I have been playing guitar for over 20 years and I absolutely loved this album. Music is a form of art, and the way you critiqued this album was absolutely ridiculous and makes you sound arrogant, self centered. Have you forgotten that music is all about peoples individual style? When someone makes a music album they are entitled to make it sound how they want, not how someone else wants it to sound, thats how you reviewed this album. THere is nothing wrong with the quality of his playing, it is superb and up to the level of eddie van halen. I dont think this album was created to safisfy all of his maistream fans, it caters to a certain genre of fans, GUITAR PLAYERS!! hence the name GUITAR ALBUM!!! Sounds like you are just jealous because if you do play guitar, your skills are no where even close to brads!!!

  132. J
    June 8, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Ben=Fail

  133. Jake Hadlee
    June 15, 2009 at 4:27 am

    I don’t necessarily agree with your review, Ben, although there is a touch of pastiche about some of the tracks, and it’s not a great album. But you kinda spoil your review by doing the old “and people who don’t agree with me are deluded” thing. It’s a bit like that Godwin’s Law – the one that says as soon as you compare someone to the Nazis you lose the argument. In this case, as soon as you say anyone who likes something you don’t is deluded, your review loses any value. Music is sbujective, and some people like this stuff, hell some people like Kenny Chesney – and that’s what music is about, entertaining people. Not entertaining you, Ben, entertaining people. Now I think Taylor Swift stinks, but that doesn’t make someone who likes her deluded or a fool. And why shouldn’t someone make music for soccer moms? – they deserve to be entertained too. In fact, I don’t know what the 1950s equivalent of soccer moms was, but whoever they were I’m damn sure Hank Williams was making music for them. You can say you didn’t like something, but don’t damn those who disagree with you or you just look petty.

  134. stephen
    September 22, 2009 at 9:54 am

    i have to agree with dsmith. I have been playing guitar for a long time and Brad brings together a lot of elements to make a great GUITAR album. The playing is fantastic.
    “Turf’s Up introduces another element that is a key part of Play, namely Brad as imposter”
    what does this even mean. This album shows how brad takes from a variety of rock, blues, and country to make his style. By what standards must a musician meet to not be an impostor. This statement shows your bias to brad needing to be a country musician and this album is not really a country album.
    Another thing, would B. B. king play with him if he sucked. No he would not, i can guarantee that. The fact is you do not have the competent ear training to appreciate this music, which is made evident by the fact that all you think brad does is play fast.
    It probably all sounds the same to you and i would except that because with out listening to a lot of music that uses a lot of complexity you wouldn’t even really get it.
    It is basically like you are criticizing the design of a nuclear bomb when you are a middle school science teacher. You have no idea what you listening to. I would suggest sticking to critiquing pop country where you can appericate it more.

  135. Frank
    April 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    What a lousy review. As a guitar player, I can totally appreciate and enjoy this album. His playing is phenomenal, and the fact that he managed to enlist some of the best living country players to play on this album is a testimony of how good he really is. But, I also like Chet Atkins an Joe Satriani records, so what do I know…

  136. Braedon
    August 20, 2010 at 5:19 am

    The review probably didn’t need to be as erm… “passionate” but on the whole I agree, even with all these guitar players coming to Brad’s defense I won’t be one of them, I found the instrumentals to be of a low standard, boring, predictable, caricatures of genres that neither needed nor wanted his lip service. You won’t critique “Cliffs of Rock City”? well allow me, it was an unnecessary companion piece to the much better song it borrows from. Brad is capable of great guitar playing, “Throttleneck” proved that, but this entire album was derivative, self indulgent, and musically so predictable I had trouble staying awake.

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