American Saturday Night Review - USA Today

Brad Paisley's albums always have seemed like a mishmash, the byproduct of a multitalented, creative guy trying to go in every direction at once. But Paisley's eighth album, American Saturday Night(* * * 1/2 out of four), is the first to feel like a full set of songs instead of some radio hits, guitar instrumentals, gospel songs and comedy bits crammed together. Paisley still offers plenty of fretboard-shredding guitar solos and chuckle-inducing lyrics ("Gonna catch all the fish, gonna drink all the beer," he promises in an irresistible number), but he also exhibits new maturity as a songwriter. Once he felt compelled to shoot wisecracks like well-timed spitwads into otherwise serious lyrics. Now, songs such as Then and Oh Yeah, You're Gone (written with his guitar hero Robben Ford) show he can sing about emotions without jamming his tongue into his cheek. Paisley's true strength is his ability to marvel at everyday things — pop culture (American Saturday Night), technology (Welcome to the Future), fatherhood (Anything Like Me) or the many uses of water (Water) — and to make others share his fascination. Throw in a handful of extraordinary guitar licks, and there's a lot worth marveling over.