This was my final gift from Jeff, the lovely and talented guy behind Jeffco Productions (did I mention he's got FREE album downloads at his site?)
This CD was totally unexpected since I'm a pure, die-hard, in-the-wool, old school country music lover (Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, George Jones, anything pre-1980) and absolutely loathe most contemporary country music.
I didn't know anything about Brad Paisley before receiving this CD (with the exception that he's married to that cutie Kimberly Williams-Paisley from "According To Jim").
Paisley hails from West Virginia and received his first guitar at the age of eight from his maternal grandfather. By the age of 12, Brad had written his first song and began appearing onstage as the opening act for the likes of Ricky Skaggs and George Jones!
After graduating from high school in the early 1990s, he attended Belmont University in Nashville on an ASCAP scholarship no less! Between studies, Paisley took in the music scene around Nashville with college friends Frank Rogers and Kelley Lovelace. Both would become Brad's music producer and songwriting partner respectively.
Before he got his break as a singer, Paisley signed a songwriting contract with EMI Music Publishing and contributed several songs to other up-and-comers like Tracy Byrd and David Hall. This is totally common in Nashville - one of the few places remaining in the recording industry where songwriters still go up and down Music Row touting their songs for sale.
In 1999, Brad recorded his first album for Arista Nashville entitled "Who Needs Pictures". His singles "He Didn't Have To Be" and "We Danced" off the album both reached #1 on the country charts. The following year he received the Country Music Association's Horizon award (awarded to promising newcomers) and the Academy of Country Music awarded him their best new male vocalist trophy.
While making the video of his 2002 single "I'm Gonna Miss Her" (with appearances from ESPN's Dan Patrick, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Jerry Springer), an actress was needed to play Paisley's wife. Can you guess who they cast?
2003 saw the release of "Mud On The Tires"; Brad's 3rd album. The single "Celebrity" is a pretty funny take on instant celebrity and the video spoofs reality shows like "Fear Factor", "The Bachelorette" (with Trista Rehn), and "American Idol" (with William Shatner doing his best Simon Cowell!).
Man, I'm liking this Brad Paisley more and more! Other singles from the album include "Whiskey Lullaby" with Allison Krauss and the title track which reached number #1 again.
Paisley also contributed two songs to the Disney/Pixar movie soundtrack of "Cars" in 2005 and released his 5th album, "Time Well Wasted". This album spawned three number #1 hits ("The World", "She's Everything", and "When I Get Where I'm Going", a duet with Dolly Parton) and received the CMA's Album of the Year award last November. This brings us to his most recent release - this Christmas CD.
1.) Winter Wonderland
A competent country cover of this Christmas classic (what alliteration!)
2.) Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy
This fine cover of the old Buck Owens tune is long winded but WOW! Nice guitar licks in this!
3.) I'll Be Home For Christmas
One part Tony Bennett, one part Chet Atkins. A very nice version of this song!
4.) Away In A Manger
I liked this but it stretched out way too long. By minute four, I was tuning out.
5.) Penguin, James Penguin
Did you know Santa had a secret agent bird that helps his keep tabs on all of us? A funny new Christmas character has arrived!
6.) 364 Days To Go
Country music still tells great stories. This is a fine example. What do you do when Christmas ends?
7.) Jingle Bells (Instrumental)
This one gives Chet Atkins and Brian Setzer's instrumental versions a run for their money! WoooEEE!
8.) Silent Night
A beautiful country rendition - overlong but it's worth it.
9.) Born On Christmas Day
Written when Brad was a lad of 13, we hear a tape of him playing this live onstage first. Full grown Brad takes over, and both end up singing at the end of this song - a beautiful song about Joseph, Mary, a manger, and baby Jesus.
10.) Silver Bells
More countrified Christmas... I'm not minded as much as I thought I would anymore!
11.) Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday
A brilliant satire on political correctness - every time the Kung Pao Buckaroos (George Jones, Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens) say "C-----mas", they get bleeped! "We Three Kings of O-----" can't be sung, substitute Asian instead! PURE GENIUS!
12.) Little Jimmy Dickens outtake
85 years old and still going strong... Bless you Jimmy!
Coming into this review, I knew nothing about Brad Paisley. I'm glad I took the trip.
This guy has his head firmly on his shoulders, respects old school country music while playing and writing some great contemporary country music, is about to become a father soon (good luck you two), and has released a well done Christmas album to boot! If you get a chance, track this one down... you won't be sorry!
UP NEXT: The final Christmas CD from my stash of 22 CDs from under the tree.