American Saturday Night Review - The Boston Globe

American Saturday Night, Brad Paisleys eighth studio record, isnt technically a concept album, but it captures all the spirited emotions, from thrilling highs to rock-bottom lows, such an evening often entails. A decade into his career, Paisley has grown into a welcome addition to the contemporary country canon, a major star with an understated delivery and an enlightened songwriting perspective. Hes quickly becoming his generations George Strait; hes just short a few dozen No. 1 hits. On American Saturday Night, more than on his previous efforts, theres an easy charm to the songs that suggests Paisley relished recording them. Its hard to remember the last time a Top 40 country album was so relaxed and shuffling yet still powerfully resonant and intimate. Crafting a sense of dynamics - both in his storytelling and the arrangements - has long been one of Paisleys strengths. American Saturday Night continues that streak with meaty guitar solos punctuating the twangy melodies and extended instrumental passages closing out several of the songs. Its very much a smartly produced album that, while adhering to the blueprint for commercial-radio country music, successfully lassos a loose party vibe. Snatches of background chatter - either real or a studio creation - creep into Everybodys Here and the title track, and the hard-charging Catch All the Fish (gonna drink all the beer, goes the chorus) morphs into a rousing good-time anthem with Paisley locked in a call-and-response with a choir of dudes who sound like theyre huddled together with Miller Lites in hand. Paisleys thoroughly modern songwriting puts a humorous and unexpected gender-bending spin on The Pants (spoiler: it aint the man who wears them in this relationship). On the slow-dance love song Shes Her Own Woman, Paisley sings: I wouldnt last 45 minutes in this house without her living in it/ Id be lost, thats for sure/ But as for her/ Shes her own woman. Welcome to the Future, no doubt the boldest song on the album, defies stereotypes about country musicians and their politics. It marvels at the social change afoot since the election of Barack Obama (sample line: Hey, wake up, Martin Luther/ Welcome to the future), and its sonically interesting, too, with subtle washes of gurgling synthesizers amid the fiddles and electric guitar. Welcome to the future . . . of country music.