Brad Paisley has been one of the leading male artists in Country music since his 1999 debut album Who Needs Pictures. Over the course his career so far, Brad has scored 19 number one hits and 8 number one albums. His last album, Moonshine in the Truck, was released in 2014 and it got a mixed reception from critics and fans. Following his headline performance at C2C: Country to Country earlier this year, Brad has released his eleventh studio album Love and War.
With nearly 20 years of releasing music under his belt, Brad has amassed a huge global following and Love and War is aimed squarely at that fanbase. You always know what you’re going to get with a Brad Paisley album; impressive guitar solos, radio-friendly melodies and a few left-of-centre moments. Love and War delivers pretty much what you’d expect opening with the bouncy guitar-driven Heaven South.
Love and War features a handful of collaborations. Interestingly Without a Fight featuring Demi Lovato, which was intended as the album’s lead single, has been left off the track list. Much was made of Brad’s collaborations with Timbaland but to be honest neither are anything much to shout about. Grey Goose Chase embraces traditional Country and Solar Power Girl is one of the more straightforward moments on the record. Anyone fearing that Brad had gone hip-hop needn’t worry.
Much better is the loose Country rock of Drive of Shame featuring Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. It’s one of the highlights on the record and an example of Brad at his best. The track hits the mark and it’s a collaboration that brings the best out of both of the vocalists.
Midway through the record Brad takes on the world’s obsessions with social media on selfie#theinternetisforever. He debuted the track during his C2C performance and while it’s a fun moment, it’s not one that warrants repeat listens. Sure it’s a tongue-in-cheek observational moment but it’s also a bit of a throwaway track.
Much better is the stirring Gold All Over the Ground, which Brad adapted from a Johnny Cash poem. It’s one of the most striking moments on the record and away from the gimmicks, it’s Brad demonstrating his strengths as an artist. The instrumentation is gorgeous, Brad’s vocal sensitive and the song memorable.
Elsewhere on the record Brad laments the end of things on Last Time For Everything, tells the tale of a teen caught out following a raucous house party on the fun One Beer Can, and aims for Country radio glory on recent single Today.
Love and War is an album that serves up familiar Brad Paisley. Despite the potential to throw some real curveballs, there isn’t anything on the record that will be too unfamiliar for long time fans of the musician. Love and War is a solid record, and I’m sure it’ll sell well, but for me it’s a little too safe and straightforward.
Track List: 1. Heaven South 2. Last Time For Everything 3. One Beer Can 4. Go To Bed Early 5. Drive of Shame (feat Mick Jagger) 6. Contact High 7. Love and War (feat John Fogarty) 8. Today 9. Selfie#theinternetisforever 10. Grey Goose Chase (feat Timbaland) 11. Gold All Over the Ground 12. Dying to See Her 13. Solar Power Girl (feat Timbaland) 14. The Devil is Alive and Well 15. Meaning Again 16. Heaven South (Reprise) Record Label: Sony Music CMG Release Date: 21st April 2017