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Brad Paisley - 5th Gear
By: Brianna Nightingale, CSO Contributing Journalist

If there is one person who knows what his fans are doing with their daily lives in 2007 its Brad Paisley. 

This is the same guy who has been nominated for 33 CMA Awards since the year 2000, played for more than 750,000 fans in 2006 and was named Top Male Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards this year.

Although he was already worthy of some great awards, Paisley surely deserves a few more for his accomplishments on album number five, which was brilliantly named 5th Gear.

5th Gear is something you reach when you’re on a long, good stretch and you’re really rolling,” Paisley says. “This album, and this time in my career, feels like that. We are pushing things further in every way - musically, lyrically and in our concerts.” 

This CD has the traditional country feel to it and is also full of humor, tenderness, interesting lyrics and great instrumentals. Paisley can take credit for many of the clever lyrics since he wrote 10 of the 16 tracks.

“Ticks”, the first single from this album, is what my best friend calls “a genius song”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Paisley takes something from nature that is unpleasant but unfortunately true and puts it into the form of an entertaining, whimsical song. 

“Working out here on the farm, I literally have to check for ticks every time I come in from the woods or the fields,” he said. “Now, if a young guy who lives in the country were to take a girl into the woods for any reason, it would totally cross his mind that she’s going to have to check for ticks when they come back out. So it seems that an enterprising guy would at least consider that he could offer to check for her.”

“It was a hard song to write because if you go too far with it, it’s not funny anymore,” he said, knowing where to draw the line. This comment, which Paisley initially made about his song “Ticks,” is true for a few of his other new songs including “Online”, “I’m Still a Guy”, “Mr. Policeman” and “Bigger Fish to Fry”. Paisley knows “if you stay with just the right amount of innuendo and leave the rest to the imagination, then it works.”

The first time I heard “Online” I could not believe how realistic and funny this song is. It describes a guy who creates a MySpace page that makes him “so much cooler online”. “I’m Still a Guy” is another tune that will be easily relatable for many of Paisley’s fans. Although the entire song is full of great lyrics, I think my favorite part describes a lot of men. When holding purses for their girlfriends, most have to hold the purse out, as far away from them as possible, to make sure everyone knows it’s not theirs, as if we don’t already know.

“In a weak moment I might/ walk your sissy dog/ hold your purse at the mall/ but remember I’m still a guy”.

On a softer note this album includes a tender duet, “Oh Love”, with the talented Carrie Underwood. Referring to love, it questions how “you believe you’re the simple truth and you’re the biggest mystery”. A slow song that begins with a few sound effects, “If Love Was a Plane”, states that although we all know our chances are small we continue trying until we find love. 

“It Did,” also in this same category, illustrates life and how even when someone thinks “it doesn’t get better than this, it did.”

Following a Kung Pao Buckaroos skit done by Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens and Vince Gill, the comedic “Bigger Fish to Fry” includes vocals by these three as well.

Although “Some Mistakes” is a more upbeat song than “Letter To Me,” they both reflect the past and how maybe sometimes people believe things should have been done a little differently. “With You, Without You” is a slow, poignant tune about the end of a relationship. “Throttleneck,” the last track on the album, is all instrumental but worth listening to.

“I think this album is really a candid snapshot of who I am and what me and my band can do”, Paisley says. “We challenged ourselves and I’m really proud of what we’ve done.”

I completely understand why Billboard put Paisley at the top this year and called him one of five hot headliners, of all music genres, to watch. Whether they are funny, touching or realistic, Paisley’s lyrics combine with all of his other talent so powerfully on this album, making it comparable to a book that is absolutely too good to put down.


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