Brad Paisley, 'Moonshine in the Trunk': Track-by-Track Review

Brad Paisley: Moonshine in the Trunk, 2014.
Courtesy of Sony Music Nashville

Album cover for Brad Paisley's "Moonshine in the Trunk."

Brad Paisley's previous album, 2013's Wheelhouse, was a finely crafted effort that touched on such weighty topics as racism, domestic violence and heartbreak. It stirred controversy when he duetted with LL Cool J on "Accidental Racist," and the overall album might have been a little too ambitious for the country format. This time around Paisley cranks up the fun and goes all out to entertain. He succeeds on every level from the clever songwriting to his signature tasty guitar licks and personality-packed vocals.

Light on ballads and heavy on in-your-face, pedal-to-the-metal country music, Moonshine in the Trunk is classic, fun-loving Paisley -- yet Paisley and co-producer Luke Wooten have created a cocktail infused with some new sonic ingredients. This album is the musical equivalent of jungle juice, the staple drink at frat parties that combines every type of alcohol: it leaves those who imbibe it a little breathless, lightheaded and ready to gulp more.

1) "Crushin' It": The sound of a beer can opening kicks off the first track and signals the tone of the whole album. Paisley is here to get the party started and this high-energy number lets the listener know they're in for a good time.

2) "River Bank": The first single from the album is a slice of summer time fun that quickly raced up the chart. The production is edgy with a cool vibe and the hook line, "We're laughing all the way to the river bank," sounds like something that should have been said before, but leave it to Paisley to be the first to think of it.

3) "Perfect Storm": This is one of those love songs that says what women want to hear and what men wish they could say. It's a tender ballad that finds Paisley comparing the woman he loves to "sunshine mixed with a little hurricane." It's the new single, and rightfully so -- it's got hit written all over it.

4) "High Life": Written by Paisley, Chris DuBois, Brent Anderson and Kelley Lovelace, this humorous number chronicles the exploits of a litigious clan always looking for their next opportunity to score some cash. After getting $10,000 and free chicken for life from Chick-fil-A, the third verse finds them suing Carrie Underwood over a song knowing that they'd "get paid to go away." The fact that Underwood is singing background vocals just makes the fun that more delicious, and when she starts talking about Chick-fil-A's waffle fries, it's hilarious. This is Paisley at his wisecracking best.

5) "Moonshine in the Trunk": This high-octane title track is a salute to taking a walk on the wild side and living "like there's moonshine in the trunk / And blue lights on our tail / Like if we get caught they're gonna haul us off to jail." With blistering guitar work and a colorful lyric, you can almost see the '69 Camaro and smell the smoke from the tires.

6) "Shattered Glass": It's unusual to hear a song about female empowerment from a guy's perspective, but Paisley puts an unusual spin on a country love song by delivering one that celebrates his woman's achievements and urging her to go for her dreams. In the chorus he sings: "Bust that ceiling out / The sky's the limit now / The world is changing fast / Rear your head back and roar / Like you ain't ever done before / It's your time at last / All you've been through ain't in vain / Come on, baby, make it rain down shattered glass." What a great way to say "I love you" in a way no one has before.

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7) "Limes": When Paisley recorded this album in the studio, he built in an old farmhouse on his property and installed a bar to perpetuate the party atmosphere. Nowhere is that more evident than on this up tempo celebration. "Ain't gotta have everything in your life / Going exactly right to party / Maybe the opposite, things are a mess / And that's the best time to burn it down," Paisley sings, and then he proceeds to do just that. The message here: When life gives you limes, make margaritas!

8) "You Shouldn't Have To": For any woman who ever had to get out of the bathtub and dry off to pour herself some more wine, Paisley feels your pain and says so in this engaging mid tempo song. The lyrics are a list of all the things women can do on their own, but really wish they didn't have to. It's a song chicks will relate to and appreciate.

9) "4WP" featuring Brad Paisley: Every country album needs a good tune that mentions a pickup truck, and this is a redneck love song about taking a four-wheel drive and putting it into four-wheel park. The "featuring Brad Paisley" is a nod to the fact that he samples his previous hit "Mud on the Tires" in a clever self shout-out.

10) "Cover Girl": Paisley, Anderson and DuBois strike again on this cleverly written song about a small town beauty discovered by Vogue who becomes a cover girl and her hometown guy has mixed feelings about the attention, declaring, "There ain't another girl / Anywhere in the whole world / As pretty as you / The only trouble, girl / Is that you'd have to go / And blow your cover, girl." Laced with fiddle, it has a gently loping melody that weaves nicely with the lyric.

11) "Gone Green": Written by Kenny Lewis, this is one of only two tracks Paisley didn't write or co-write. It's an interesting tale of an old redneck who has "done gone green." With understated and decidedly traditional country production, Paisley issues social commentary on the sacrifices we make to save the planet. It's a fun little ditty with some wry, interesting observations.

12) "An American Flag on the Moon": Paisley intros this powerful song with an excerpt from John F. Kennedy's speech about choosing to go to the moon. In an interesting move, Paisley recently shared the song with fans from the launch pad at NASA as part of his rogue marketing campaign to leak music not yet officially shared by the label. As fun as this album is, Paisley can't party non stop without throwing in something powerful and poignant, and this song is amazing. Inspired by his five-year-old son, Jasper, looking at the moon and saying he thought he could see the American flag planted there, this song is a reminder of how much our nation has accomplished. Paisley sings, "Tonight I dare you to dream / Go on believe impossible things / Whenever anybody says / There's anything we can't do / 'Cause after all there's an American flag on the moon."

13) "Country Nation": Country music has a strong tradition of celebrating the common folk who make our country great, and this song is a fitting tribute to America's working class. It boasts a soaring, anthemic melody and a lyric country fans will relate to easily. Paisley's Country Nation tour takes its moniker from this patriotic tune.

14) "Me and Jesus": Paisley includes a gospel song on every album, sometimes an old hymn and sometimes an original like "Those Crazy Christians" from Wheelhouse. This time as a bonus track he's chosen Tom T. Hall's classic "Me and Jesus," the song he delivered last year at country icon George Jones' funeral. It's just Paisley's warm, compelling voice and a guitar, which is all that's needed to share this simple message of faith and individuality. It might seem like an unlikely choice to close the album, but it's actually a perfect complement. (Paisley actually mixed this song on Air Force One after traveling to Afghanistan with President Obama to perform for the troops. It holds the distinction of being the only song ever mixed on Air Force One.)


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