Who’s Gonna Fill Their Legendary Shoes?
If you can name another country artist better skilled at turning a phrase than Brad Paisley, we’ll eat his white hat. The more they run my name down, the more my price goes up. You’ve had some of the best times you’ll never remember with me. If I could write a letter to me, and send it back to myself at 17. These are just a few of the pearls that have come from Brad’s clever pen. Like one of his biggest influences, Buck Owens, Brad is able to move seamlessly from playful to earnest, a gift not afforded to many. Listen to “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song)” and “Welcome to the Future” back-to-back and marvel at how he makes you laugh and then makes you reflect. But never does he make you feel like you’re being manipulated. It’s Brad’s affection for the genre’s history, however, that cements his place in country music. He’s advancing country not with trends but by developing new sounds based on past traditions—especially with his guitar work. He plays with all the reverential twang of the Bakersfield Sound but isn’t afraid to toss in a Van Halen-worthy lick here and there for effect. The artist who sang “Welcome to the Future” is the one taking us there.
photo by Jeremy Cowart/Sony Music Nashville
In this special Country Weekly cover story, we profile some of today’s most capable artists—the Veterans, the Journeymen, the Hopefuls and the Promising—and take a look ahead down country’s road.