Chris Willman
May 11, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

This Is Country Music

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Brad Paisley
music label
81799
genre
Country

We gave it an A

Brad Paisley is so quintessentially a country star, it’s almost as if he has been engineered by twang-happy research scientists or tobacco-chewing aliens to encapsulate everything great about the genre. He’s a sentimentalist, a rocker, a traditionalist, a singer of gospel and goofy novelty songs, a proponent of family and fleshly values, and a flame-shooting Telecaster hero. If his 15-song event albums were the sum total of country music, it would still be a pretty well-developed medium.

‘You’re not supposed to say the word cancer in a song/And telling folks Jesus is the answer can rub ’em wrong,” he announces on the title track from his latest, This Is Country Music (out May 24) — and he’ll get around to doing both. But Paisley allows the disease- or God-averse plenty of other options in the variety hour that follows. Guests include Carrie Underwood, as his flame-rekindling call-and-response partner on ”Remind Me,” and no less than Clint Eastwood, who does steely lead whistling on the instrumental Western homage ”Eastwood.”

Shameless laughs come via surf-guitar showcase ”Working on a Tan,” an ode to slacker hotties, and backwoods fashion statement ”Camouflage” (”Being invisible to a whitetail is irresistible to a redneck girl”). While Paisley has a tendency to be too clever when he’s trying to be emotional, there are honest tearjerkers here, like the post-divorce lament ”I Do Now.” The whole record plays like a best-of sampler — not just for Paisley, but for the history of the art form. A

Download These:
Be the Lake, a girl-watching anthem, at Last.fm
Eastwood, a showcase for Clint’s whistle

See all of this week’s reviews

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