WITH his fifth album ( sixth counting last year’s Christmas collection) Brad Paisley marks himself as the best all- round contemporary mainstream artist Nashville has to offer. A superb guitarist, singer and songwriter, the ever- inventive Paisley keeps finding new ways to look at modern life and put these observations in memorable settings. Paisley writes non- novelty songs that remain funny on repeated listenings. Online , a discussion of chat- room habits, delivers the memorable tag ‘‘ I’m so much cooler online’’. He then gives the song a wicked musical punchline courtesy of a school marching band. The racing Mr Policeman ends with a blistering guitar solo and a coda that references Jimmie Rodgers and South Park . The boy’s nearly as smart as he is funny. Balancing the laughs with some eye- moistening ballads, a jaw- dropping instrumental ( Throttleneck ), a duet with Carrie Underwood, some comedy from the Kung Pao Buckaroos and a gospel song, Paisley may have settled on a formula, but it shows no signs of wearing thin.
5th Gear Brad Paisley Arista/ SonyBMG