Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton | Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader

Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton Early Warnings (Music) Sold Out (Music) Soundboard

When: Sat., Aug. 6, 7:30 p.m. 2011

There's probably nobody in mainstream country better at simultaneously embracing and poking fun at the genre's conventions than Brad Paisley—the guy eats up cliches like corn pone. Every time one of his songs makes you cringe, the next thing you'll do is smile or nod when you get the joke. On his previous record, American Saturday Night, he dared to embrace the election of Barack Obama—controversial turf for his demographic—but on the new This Is Country Music (Arista Nashville) he's back to his bread and butter. Right from the title track, which opens the album, he celebrates the plainspoken concerns and folksy wisdom of country—and he litters its lyrics with references to hits from the music's history. He adeptly plays both sides on "Camouflage," celebrating its ubiquity in the south and even going as far as to posit it as an alternative to the Confederate flag, which he understands "offends some folks" ("The only thing as patriotic as the old red, white, and blue / Is green and gray and black and brown and tan all rolled into / Camouflage"). As usual, Paisley juggles soccer-mom ballads ("Remind Me," his duet with Carrie Underwood), shit-hot guitar slinging ("Eastwood"), harmony-loaded summer pop ("Working on a Tan"), and quaint, 70s-style honky-tonk, demonstrating his mastery of it all. —Peter Margasak

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