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Brad Paisley breaks the pattern

June 27, 2009 |  5:22 pm
A patriot for changing times, Brad Paisley decides his music has room to grow and dives hat first into ‘American Saturday Night.’


In the decade since country singer Brad Paisley put out his debut album, the kid from Glen Dale, W.Va., has concocted a savvy musical amalgam of Roger Miller's songwriting wit, Buck Owens' hard-rocking twang and Chet Atkins' guitar wizardry. But there's powerful evidence of another influence at work in Paisley's music, one of the titans of American popular culture: Mark Twain. 

 Like Twain's youthful literary hero Tom Sawyer, Paisley frequently couples wisdom with a finely honed sense of humor, and appears to share Huck Finn's disenchantment with the emphasis that all those grown-ups around him place on becoming "sivilized." 

In hits such as "Online," "Celebrity" and "Ticks," he's proved to be a skillful sneak, slipping in the kind of clever ideas and wordplay that few of his peers at the top of the country sales charts dare to venture. He's tackled the subject of alcohol abuse from different vantage points in two hit songs, the whimsical "Alcohol" and the artistic punch to the gut "Whiskey Lullaby," his award-winningduet with bluegrass queen Alison Krauss.

Paisley's eighth album, "American Saturday Night," due out Tuesday, has the usual complement of straightforward love songs (the first single, "Then"), ruminations on love lost ("Oh Yeah, You're Gone") and humorous come-ons ("You Do the Math").

But what is likely to elevate Paisley's standing as a musician, both in and potentially outside of the Nashville music community, are two key tracks: the title song and "Welcome to the Future," both of which broach topics that also were favorites of Samuel Clemens.