Time Well Wasted

Brad Paisley

Arista Nashville, 2005


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


The fun thing about a reasonably intelligent artist working in the country genre is, there are just so damn many stereotypes to rebel against. And while Time Well Wasted might not smash as many boundaries as, say, Brokeback Mountain, it does a fair job of expanding horizons, while also paying homage to the past.

Paisley, who first came to attention as a precocious teenaged talent sharing stages with much bigger stars at the Grand Ole Opry, has matured into a full-fledged star himself, and this disc finds him near the top of his game. He writes or co-writes most of these songs, and they are sprinkled with a keen self-awareness and biting sense of humor that push the envelope until the album feels in places like a parody of a country album... and then he reels you back in with a big-hearted ballad right out of the George Jones/George Strait new traditionalist school.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

That dichotomy -- between rebellion against and embrace of country music traditions -- makes Time Well Wasted feel like an album Garth Brooks could have made, if he hadn't been so busy being GARTH BROOKS all the time. It's big-hearted, earnest, lovable and fun -- the main difference being, Paisley's humor has a distinctly self-mocking edge.

"Alcohol," for example, catalogs the many things that result from and/or get blamed on the title substance, but saves the sharpest skewer for Paisley & co., punching up a chorus line about "helping white people dance." "I'll Take You Back" is a brilliantly wicked four-minute compendium of bitter-breakup one-liners (e.g. "When politicians everywhere stop telling lies / And only state the facts / Right then, that's when / I'll take you back."). "You Need A Man Around Here" is more standard country fare in its good ole boy posture towards a feminine household, but country music doesn't get much better than lines like this: "I haven't been in a room this clean / Since they took my appendix out."

The weak spot on the album is the ballads. Paisley has a big, pleasant voice, and he layers the slower songs here with a straight-laced earnestness that seems intended to balance the humor he pushes in other songs. Which is all well and good from a marketing perspective, but the songs themselves -- with a couple of exceptions -- are fairly predictable affairs. The exceptions would be "Waitin' On A Woman," whose gently sexist premise nonetheless builds to a punchline that's both witty and moving, and "Love Is Never-Ending," which just felt so damn sincere it sucked me in.

In the category of the inexplicable lies the quote-unquote bonus track, "Cornography," which finds Paisley, George Jones, Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens and Dolly Parton doing some kind of wacked-out radio play that makes no sense whatsoever, is riddled with double entendres involving Parton's two most notable assets, and ends up making you laugh not at the routine itself, but at the pure dementedness it took to put this on an album in the first place.

There are things you might criticize Brad Paisley for, but taking himself or his music too seriously is not one of them. For the most part, this album is a hoot.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arista Nashville, and is used for informational purposes only.