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He’s been on tour, giving the late country legend Roger Miller a run for his money as a guitarist and a cutup.He’s been on television, serving as a judge on ABC’s latest singing game show, “Rising Star.” He’s been at home on his farm outside Nashville, soaking up time with his young sons, Huck and Jasper, and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams.He has a knack for singing from other perspectives, sometimes playing an opinionated narrator on the brink of a big realization.On the new album, there’s “Gone Green” — a song penned by Paisley’s bassist, Kenny Lewis — in which a “redneck” reluctantly embraces environmentalism in a world that’s “done gone green.” On 2013’s “Those Crazy Christians,” Paisley sings from the position of a grouchy atheist willing to admit that, “If I ever really needed help, well, you know who I’d call is those crazy Christians.” And all those ditties about the ups and downs and upside-downs of alcohol?And hopefully, this isn’t as good as it gets.” He’s the closest country music has come to Norman Rockwell.------------ The great art critic — and Music Row songwriting veteran — Dave Hickey had a terrific understanding of what Rockwell was really about.
He populates his lyric sheet with people who don’t normally appear in country songs, gilding their unfamiliar dramas in deeply familiar melodies. More often, there’s a “I defuse everything I can with it,” Paisley says. You’re going to get flak if you tell the wrong joke, but it’s still the wrong joke.
And he’s been online, executing his own rogue publicity campaign, leaking songs from “Moonshine in the Trunk” on Twitter, one by one.
He calls the album “a Mason jar half-full” — which means lots of drinking songs and lots of optimism.
And while the album’s excessive sunshine might seem a little tone-deaf to anyone who’s been following the news this summer, Paisley is far from oblivious.
His music doesn’t just chronicle the America we live in. “Thinking, ‘Boy, are we blowing it, now’ — I don’t want to do that,” Paisley says. I want to say, ‘Here are the possibilities.’ This is the best time to be alive in the history of our country.