Social critique’s been in country’s heritage since Loretta Lynn gave thanks for the pill and Johnny Cash explained his sartorial taste for black. So consider Brad Paisley’s protest-song devotion part of his traditionalism, which continues with the title track of his 11th studio LP: a bullseye John Fogerty collaboration denouncing America’s shameful treatment of vets. “They ship you out to die for us, forget about you when you don’t,” the men holler, while guitar and pedal steel wail.
It’s not the only classic rock rewind on satisfyingly pro-forma Paisley set. “Drive of Shame” conjures latter-day Stones with new BFF Mick Jagger, who protests being kicked out of bed. Equally entertaining is “selfie#theinternetisforever,” a singalong punchline feed about Instagramming idiots that rhymes “tweet it,” “delete it” and “unsee it” in the interest of a healthier media ecosystem. Timbaland drops by to sharpen beats (the bluegrass-charged “Grey Goose Chase”), and per usual, Paisley peels off fantastically hot-shit guitar solos (the bluesy “Contact High”). Also per usual, there’s filler, none too embarrassing – Paisley’s pro enough that even his apparent phone-ins are well-crafted. But over 16 tracks, you can’t help but wish that one of country’s greatest would shoot consistently higher than easy chuckles and sentimental homilies.