This Is Country Music
Brad Paisley's thematic 10th album embraces all of what country music is today — its soul, its vivid storytelling, and, yes, its genre clichés. The lead singles, uncharacteristically, are ads more than songs: The self-congratulatory title track preaches to the choir, earning boldness points for working the word "cancer" into its lyrics, while "Old Alabama" praises Eighties country-pop cornballs Alabama — complete with cameo — as a good-ol'-girl aphrodisiac. Elsewhere, the greatest country artist of his generation keeps it fresh, funny and guitar-heroic. "Camouflage" is a canny anthem suggesting a replacement for the problematic Confederate flag and quoting "Dixie" in a badass Telecaster solo. And "Toothbrush" sounds like the result of a barroom challenge to make a profound song out of an impossibly dull object. To anyone who bet against Paisley: You lose.