The short version: It’s good to have the old Brad Paisley back.
The long version: After many album eras of experimentation, maybe it’s good to have the old Brad Paisley back.
Despite his unfortunate waning chart success, Paisley has quietly been one of the most interesting artists of the genre. He’s managed to stay true to himself while also offering his grand vision for other projects to us, the fans. Sure, that wild streak has resulted in some unfortunate songs (and yes, we’re still talking about that song), but it’s typically provided us with solid albums.
2017’s Love & War managed to be one of my favorite albums of the year for blending in classic Paisley with newer Paisley, but the shift also suggested that maybe he understood it was time to go back to the basics eventually. Thankfully, “Bucked Off” reminds us of the old Paisley we all know and love.
While certain songs have tried and failed to recapture the spirit of country music of the past, “Bucked Off” manages to be a fitting tribute to king George Strait without being overloaded or too direct. Paisley mixes his signature blend of humor with rodeo references to craft a pretty good song.
Sonically, the king would be proud of this, as Paisley’s signature electric guitar riffs blend nicely with fiddle and steel guitar to create a nice, upbeat mix. Lyrically, the song is missing quite a few details, and for once that’s alright. This is a light-hearted break-up song that operates more for the references and humorous language. In other words, the sentiment does the heavy lifting. Plus, when you have Strait to heal your pain, are you really feeling any pain?
Of course, the other great thing about this track is that it works fine just as a standalone song without knowing every single Strait reference made. It never feels overstuffed or operating solely for nostalgia play. It’s a fun break-up track that very few artists other than Paisley could pull off.
My only criticism is that vocally, Paisley’s delivery feels a bit undercooked, with his more serious delivery not really letting the song shine as bright as it could. It’s definitely a song where he could have let loose and had fun vocally, but that just seems to be missing here.
At any rate, “Bucked Off” is meat-and-potatoes Paisley music, and while his experimentation was also appreciated, sometimes to find a great song you just need to go back to your roots.