The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Music: Brad Paisley’s “Wheelhouse” barely toes the boundaries

Music: Brad Paisley’s “Wheelhouse” barely toes the boundaries

Although Paisley made an effort to bring new sights and sounds to country music, the result is still the same landscape.

Mixed Reviews is a feature in which we examine recently released songs and albums with perspectives from two different reporters. Here, we review Brad Paisley’s latest album “Wheelhouse.”

Shuyi’s take: Just the same ol’ country honky tonk

I dislike country music. Probably the only time I was interested in it was when I first watched Budweiser’s Clydesdales 2013 Super Bowl commercial, in which a foal grew up and was separated from his owner to become a polished beer carriage horse — all to the song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. I’ll admit, I shed a country tear.

I had hoped that Brad Paisley’s new album, “Wheelhouse,” would have the same effect.

Brad Paisley’s ninth studio album, “Wheelhouse,” released April 9, caused uproar with the song “Accidental Racist.” However, the rest of the album falls flat. Source:

Unfortunately, it didn’t.

“Wheelhouse” is full of songs meant to push boundaries, including unique guitar solos that supposedly evoke images of the actor Andy Griffith and Eric Idle from Monty Python into the regular slow strum of country music.

But even this different approach doesn’t enrich the music’s message as much as it should because while the songs explore a range of topics from love to the Reconstruction, the message is drowned out by the same slow swinging country tunes that permeate most of the songs on the album. The progressiveness of the lyrics isn’t reflected in the melody, which is often the most noticeable aspect of the songs in “Wheelhouse.”

Although I glazed through a couple of songs without any comprehension of its message due to this fault, some tracks did take me by surprise.

“Accidental Racist,” a song that blends the genres of country and rap, is one of the album‘s few successes. It strikes a nerve with fans and non-fans alike, which is better than no reaction at all. This song deals with reconciliation between the southern white culture and the African Americans, mirrored by the collaboration between LL Cool J, an African-American from New York and Paisley, a true southerner.

Another song, “Officially Alive,” touches on romance to emphasize the overall message of the pains and pleasures of life. It’s elevated further by the upbeat swing of country rock as Paisley chants, “It’s when you’re so in love and so in pain. Congratulations, you are officially alive.” Unlike most of the other songs, this is a fun track for not only fans, but also listeners.

While I’m glad that Paisley is making an effort to push boundaries, an effort is not enough for me to shed a tear to match the ones brought on by the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial. “Accidental Racist,” and perhaps a few others such as “Officially Alive,” are good, but that’s all they are –– good, not great.


Namrata’s take: One plain country album with a side of controversy

I am a closeted country music fan. I say that because I have spent the last five years of my life declaring my distaste for Taylor Swift. But if you were to look at my iTunes, you would probably find  “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts on my most played list.

However, Brad Paisley’s new album “Wheelhouse,” released April 9, brought me mixed feelings.

“Wheelhouse” was accompanied by Paisley’s own band –– The Drama Kings –– and was entirely recorded in his yellow farmhouse that was converted into a recording studio. The album is a medley of multiple styles, from slow and powerful ballads to upbeat and classic country swing. However, despite Paisley’s experimentation with styles, the album in general came across as redundant.

The few tracks that stay true to country music hit gold. The slow numbers won me over; Paisley’s smooth crooning in the songs “I Can’t Change the World” and “Tin Can On a String” coupled with the classic acoustic guitar chords strike the essence of country soul.

Unfortunately, Paisley’s pop-influenced tracks, like “Southern Comfort Zone,” are dull and forgettable. With the exception of a few songs, the sound of the album as a whole is repetitive and at points monotonous.

Paisley, known for his humorous and heart-touching songwriting abilities, takes a risk with his controversial stance in the song “Accidental Racist.” This song, featuring rapper LL Cool J, attempts to explain a proud Southerner’s views on racial tensions. Drawing inspiration from “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln,” Paisley sings, “I’m just a white man comin’ to you from the southland/Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be/I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done/And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history.” While “Accidental Racist” extends the necessary conversation of race relations, the song as a whole is mediocre (country music and rap should never mix).

“Accidental Racist” isn’t Paisley’s sole effort to be profound. “Wheelhouse” also contains several heavy instrumental tracks such as “幽 女” which deviate from the average country album, but in all honesty, contribute nothing to the album.

While “Wheelhouse” deviated from the country norm, Paisley’s experimentation proved ultimately unsuccessful. Sorry Brad, but I doubt any track on “Wheelhouse” will make it on my most played list.

More to Discover