Brad Paisley’s steady evolution from the wry good-guy-next-door guitar wizard to smoothly polished headlining star has been a seamless and enjoyable sight to behold. One of the many things Paisley can hang his hat on is that he’s had very few missteps along the way. And even on those rare occasions when he miscalculates, no one really minds because those rare moments are so few and far between. American Saturday Night is no different. It’s not a perfect album, if that’s even possible, but it’s as close as Paisley has achieved in his wonderful career.
Paisley’s Patented Humor Continues
As with most of Paisley’s previous albums, American Saturday Night showcases the many sides to his personality. As expected, his renowned humor is firmly in place, yet as he’s matured as an artist, he’s become much more adept at delivering his patented tongue-in-cheekiness without transforming the song into a Ray Stevens-esque novelty tune (see 2003’s “Celebrity” and 2005’s “Alcohol”). On “Catch All the Fish,” Paisley merely voices what any fishing fanatic would love to do. We get to live vicariously through him when he sings, "I filled up two shopping carts late last night/One was full of fishing gear, the other Miller Lite/The checkout lady laughed and said you think you got enough?/And I said, yeah, you’re probably right, and filled another two carts up."
There’s certainly nothing ground-breaking about a country artist, especially a guy, singing about fishing and drinking and impatient spouses, but there’s just something about Paisley’s intuitive sense of timing and delivery that would render a lesser poet little more than a chauvinistic cliché. On the snappy honky-tonk number, “The Pants,” Paisley reminds the dufus proudly wearing the boot-cut britches with the Skoal ring on the back pocket that it’s not the one wearing the pants who’s in charge but the one wearing the skirt.
Tender Heartfelt Songs Galore
Beyond his trademark humor and his prodigious lightning-quick wizardry on the guitar, Paisley has firmly established himself as one of country’s best balladeers. His greatest leaps here can be found in his songwriting. It’s been long established that Paisley, who co-wrote every song on American Saturday Night, is a talented songwriter. His very first No. 1 hit, 1999’s “He Didn’t Have to Be,” which he co-wrote with long-time songwriting cohort, Kelley Lovelace, remains one of his greatest accomplishments.
“Then,” the first single from American Saturday Night, is a tender love note to his wife detailing some key early moments in their relationship: "I remember, trying not to stare the night that I first met you/You had me mesmerized/And three weeks later, in the front porch light/taking forty-five minutes to kiss goodnight/I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then." He’s able to convey, through song, the things most guys would kill to conjure up when signing their spouse’s Valentine’s Day card. On “I Hope that’s Me,” Paisley sweetly expresses the same “open your eyes, it’s me who loves you!” sentiment one might expect from a Taylor Swift song, yet he does it maturity and grace.
The Heartbreak Is Here, Too
It’s a given that Paisley can sing songs about heartbreak and death with the best of the best. “Oh Yeah, You’re Gone” is easily one of the best, if not the best, songs on American Saturday Night. It’s not readily apparent whether he’s singing about a lost lover or a deceased loved one. Such is the power and growing abilities of Paisley as a songwriter that it doesn’t really matter because the sad message tears your heart out either way: "This is gonna take some getting’ used to baby/I’m gonna need more time/Because I still say us when I oughta say me/I still say ours instead of mine." You can hear the tears in Paisley’s voice.
The Future According to Paisley
More than any other Paisley album to date, American Saturday Night has a coherent and consistent theme throughout, which is love. Love of family. Love of history. Love of spouse. There’s a real nostalgia to the album that, far from lamenting the past, actually celebrates the past while looking forward to the future. The idea is probably best captured on the album’s second single, “Welcome to the Future,” in which Paisley fondly reminisces about how things used to be while simultaneously celebrating the technological advances that make our lives that much easier: "And I’d have given anything/To have my own Pac-Man game at home/I used to have to get a ride down to the arcade/Now I’ve got it on my phone."
Paisley’s fondness for the simplicity of the past is refreshingly coupled with his true marvel at some of the advancements we’ve made. Grandpa mailed letters to Grandma from the Phillipines during the war. How sweet! Yet, today I was on a video conference with a company in Japan. Equally sweet!
A New Take on Patriotism
On the title track to American Saturday Night, Paisley enumerates just how global we’ve all become, even if we don’t quite realize it ourselves: "She’s got Brazilian leather boots on the pedal of her German car/Listen to the Beatles sing Back in the USSR/yeah she’s going around the world tonight/but she ain’t leavin’ here/she’s just going to meet her boyfriend down at the street fair." And to Paisley, it’s all gloriously American, American as apple pie, regardless if the apples are from Canada and the sugar is from South America. Just like all of American Saturday Night, it’s about as good as it gets.
Release Date: June 30, 2009
Label: Arista Nashville
- “Oh Yeah, You’re Gone”
- “American Saturday Night”
- “I Hope That’s Me”
- “Welcome to the Future”
Brad Paisley Studio Albums
- Who Needs Pictures
- Part II
- Mud on the Tires
- Time Well Wasted
- 5th Gear
- American Saturday Night