Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

When it comes to country music concerts, cowboy hats are usually the headgear of choice. However, lately when Brad Paisley looks out from the stage, he sees a lot of lampshades -- thanks to his hit single "Alcohol."

Fans have enthusiastically embraced the song, particularly the line "I'll bet you a drink or two that I can make you put that lampshade on your head."

Paisley admits he was "kind of nervous in the same way I was nervous when we [released] 'The Fishin' Song' and 'Whiskey Lullaby.' [It was] taking a little bit of a risk and if anything, those usually pay off."

Indeed they have. A top 5 track on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, "Alcohol" served as a preview of Paisley's 16-song collection "Time Well Wasted," released Aug. 16 by RCA Nashville. The tune is the artist's 15th single, following such chart-toppers as "He Didn't Have to Be," "We Danced," "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)" and "Mud on the Tires."

Each of Paisley's three previous albums has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, with his last release, "Mud on the Tires," achieving double-platinum status. He has also collected five Country Music Association awards.

Through hard work, great songs and an abundance of creative chutzpah, Paisley is on the verge of becoming country music's next male superstar. RCA Label Group chairman Joe Galante says "Time Well Wasted" takes "leaps forward" for Paisley. "This record is fun, intimate, sexy; it's adult. It covers so many spectrums."

Galante sees such versatility as one of Paisley's strengths. "'Whiskey Lullaby' happened and 'Mud on the Tires' happened, and they were two opposite records and yet they both defined Brad Paisley," he says, adding that some artists have "hit singles and you go see their show and you are disappointed. They don't connect the dots for you. When you walk away from seeing a Brad Paisley show, you honestly do connect the dots.

"His audience in the last 10 years has dropped 10 years in age," Galante adds. "They are selling merchandise out there. He's selling tickets. It's only a matter of time before he gets nominated for entertainer of the year."

Paisley will tour this fall with Sara Evans and Sugarland on a CMT-sponsored outing underwritten by laundry detergent Gain and motel chain Comfort Inn. Early this year Paisley and Evans partnered for a sold-out tour.

"I was more mindful this time on what songs would go over live," Paisley says of recording "Time Well Wasted." "Within the last two years, I've really seen a difference in touring. That part is really starting to click, and I started to realize that an album is not the only thing that I'm here to do.

"I used to feel like my career was based around an album, and it still is -- every time you put out an album, that's the big thing you're driving around the country to promote. But when you've had three successful albums and 13 or 14 hit songs, at this point now it's more about continuing" to build a career.

Paisley wrote or co-wrote 10 of the songs on "Time Well Wasted," which was produced by Frank Rogers and executive-produced by Chris DuBois. The album includes appearances by several special guests, including Paisley pals Little Jimmy Dickens, Bill Anderson, George Jones and William Shatner. Dolly Parton duets on "When I Get Where I'm Going," a beautiful ballad that is preceded by a retro-sounding rendition of gospel classic "The Uncloudy Day."

Paisley also duets with labelmate Alan Jackson on the Guy Clark/Darrell Scott tune "Out in the Parkin' Lot." "I can really picture two guys sitting on the tailgate of a truck, doing exactly what the song says," Paisley says. "And when you talk about singing with somebody, it might as well be one of your heroes."

The album also includes the pretty ballad "She's Everything," written by Paisley and Will Nance. "It's very meaningful to me," Paisley says of the song penned for his wife, actress Kimberly Williams Paisley. "I've never done a serious love song. In [previous hit] 'Little Moments,' she was always burning the cake or something."

Paisley's creativity on "Time Well Wasted" extends beyond the music to the cover art, which he designed with Katherine Stratton. Inspired by a Salvador Dali painting he saw while on vacation in Italy, Paisley came up with the concept and even drew the clock on the cover that hangs from his guitar neck. "I wanted it to stand out a little different because this is a different album to me than anything I've ever done," the West Virginia native says. "It's the job of an album cover to reflect what's inside. I feel it does."

For the initial shipment of the new disc, Target consumers will receive a bonus CD with four additional songs, including "Ode De Toilet," a humorous tune Paisley fans are familiar with from his live appearances. Best Buy will have a 30-day exclusive on a live concert DVD before it goes on sale at other retailers, while Wal-Mart patrons will get a bonus DVD compilation of Paisley videos with the purchase of "Time Well Spent."





Excerpted and expanded from the Aug. 20, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.

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