Like his last record, Doug Paisley’s Say What You Like is threaded with a weathered quality — cracked and oiled like leather, rutted deep like bar wood, worn through like flannel that’s been patched and re-patched. Where the last record was steeped in a smoke-halo of heartbreak and a sunken-hearted urge to be made whole, there’s more of a free spirit to this one. More than a few nods arise to JJ Cale. It comes through in the rambling guitar lines. It’s imbued in the stagelight sparkle of Doug’s songs. They’re the kind that feel as familiar in the back of the local bar as they do over the speakers on the dash. Paisley’s songs move you through the day with a wry smile, but they leave the listener weathered as well. There’s no getting out of Say What You Like without a mark.
Paisley’s voice holds weight. It’s the kind of croon that imparts every slight, setback, and surrender that’s befallen his protagonists. Their triumphs and failures are etched into every note. It’s great to hear his drawl turn towards the sun, crack the window and let the open road blow through, a scent of early summer on the air. Songs like “If I Wanted To,” and “Make It A Double” dance through the speakers, unbuttoned and unburdened. They balance out the melancholy that slips back in between the bliss. The tone is lighter, but Paisley’s never one to fully leave the languish behind. The record spans the barstool stories of a crowd around 11:30 on a Thursday. It’s carefree casual on one set of shoulders, but has its sights set on the bottom of the bottle one seat over. In a spotless catalog of classics, Doug’s gone and bested himself once again.
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