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Album review: Brad Paisley's 'Play'

November 3, 2008 |  5:15 pm

Brad_pailsey_2 Brad Paisley might be one of contemporary country's master wordsmiths, but on his fifth album, he hardly says a word. With "Play," a largely instrumental collection, Paisley shows off his jaw-dropping musical chops. Despite the fret board fireworks, this is an honest love letter to the art of making music.

Paisley covers an impressively broad stylistic range that includes the ghost-surfers-in-the-sky vibe of "Turf's Up," the hard Texas blues of "Playing With Fire" and the sweet balladry of "Kim," a wordless love song for his wife. He might be out of his league vocally in his duet with B.B. King on one of the blues great's signature tunes; both still manage to "Let the Good Times Roll" anyway.

He also offers up salutes to guitar hero Les Paul and one of his own mentors, Buck Owens. The pairing with Owens might be the album's highlight, a posthumous duet that niftily quotes Buck's great country instrumental "Buckaroo," then retools his 1964 song "Hello Trouble" on its way to completing a latter-day recording its composer never finished.

Country radio will want to jump all over "Start a Band," a duet with Keith Urban channeling the joy of strumming in the company of like-minded buds, but only true guitar geeks will be able to sort out who's playing what on "Cluster Pluck." It's a six-stringed summit meeting among Paisley, James Burton, Vince Gill, Albert Lee, John Jorgenson, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert and Steve Wariner.

--Randy Lewis

Brad Paisley
"Play"
Arista Nashville
Three and a half stars

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