Brad Paisley releases second (and better) installment of new album with ‘Beat This Summer’ – Single Review


If there’s one thing you need to know about this song, it’s
beautiful chaos. I’d like to just leave it there, but perhaps I should explain
my position. As soon as the song began, I immediately started dancing
(resistance is futile), and the initial melody, imitated in Brad’s vocal, is SO
catchy, it puts all those catchy country/pop tunes to shame (I’m struggling to
stop dancing along to write this review, in fact). Not that this is country/pop
however, there are still remnants of Brad’s signature style with the bluesy
distorted guitar solo which is so characteristic of his recordings. It appears
a little more erratic than normal, however, and that is a pretty apt
description for the rest of this track.

There is too much going on in the mix for me to give a kind
of laundry list like I usually do with a single, but the interplay between the
electric guitar riff and the plucky banjo loop, that fills the intro and
underlies the rest of the song is flawless, and that’s what makes the song so
addictive, fundamentally. I’m no aural genius, but to my ear the four chords
that are used sound pretty basic (which is more than can be said for some of
Brad’s tracks… C# minor anyone?), which is makes it all the more amazing that
he can make the song sound so interesting, and, on one level, a bit radical.
There is so much contrapuntal going on (lots of different melody lines and
sonic tidbits playing at the same time), that I’m shocked they’ve been able to
make it work. It’s true, there are times where it feels like certain parts are
clashing harmonically, but it’s enough to be creative without moving into the
realms of bad music.

The key to this song is rhythm, and Brad and his team don’t
shy away from technology (as has been the aesthetic tradition within country
music), as delayed vocals (shrouded in a frankly greedy amount of reverb) jump
into a brief instrumental pause. The space given is shortlived, however, as
instantly the song is back on track. As a good song should, it slowly and
totally unnoticeably builds up over time, but the song manages to do what
usually Brad only manages in 5 or 6 minutes, in taking a journey. I couldn’t
believe it was only 4 minutes long. Choirs chip in every so often in a
call-and-response method that is foolproof and the chorus brings it all together
is a standard sing-along country summer melody that so punctuates country radio
and the musical landscape in Nashville for those hot and sunny months.

The bridge is another interesting section all its own,
dropping down and making Brad’s harder rock influences clear, guitars abundant
with tons of chorus effect and reverb flying around like it’s candy. It seems
like Brad covers so many bases musically with this track that again the
surprisingly average length is a mystery to me, however it may have something
to do with the fairly speedy fade-out that occurs. I usually feel like this is
a bit of a cop-out, and I do wish it hadn’t been used here, especially as it
creeps up strangely quickly, however I understand the issues of length for
getting played on the radio, etc. It’s a small price to pay for the sonic
exploration of this song.

Lyrically it could easily be ignored as another summer love
song, but it turns the cliché on its head and detaches itself from it. Instead
of enjoying a summer love or looking back on it and missing it, the narrator is
experiencing the summer love but feeling it slipping away as it turns into fall,
knowing he will never get anything better than this, and it’s almost done in a
gently comedic, tongue-in-cheek way. In some roundabout way the lyrics are
making fun of the popular country music trend of summer love songs, turning
around and exposing the ‘thing’ for what it really is. The single artwork too –
concept but based on the theme of the album cover – built on the lyric about
hourglasses. So much effort has gone in resulting in a genuinely creative and
interesting piece of artwork.

Overall, ‘Beat This Summer’ is a melting pot of influences,
while still staying true to Brad’s signature style and country music as it
stands in 2013. Far from following other less-than-savoury recent musical
trends, Brad goes his own way and does very well at it. The one thing that
makes this song so amazing for me, however, is Brad’s previous claim that they
didn’t use technology to ‘help’ out. In other words, everything on ‘Beat This
Summer’, ‘Southern Comfort Zone’, and the rest of ‘Wheelhouse’, was played. No
adding bits, no correcting (and I’m guessing) no looping, all played. That’s
what totally floors me about this song. It’s far, far better than almost
everything else I hear on the radio, yet a hell of a lot more hard graft and
pure talent has gone into writing it, playing it, recording it, putting it
together, and even designing the artwork.

So why are we wasting our time with anyone else?


Posted by Vickye (Guest Writer).
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