Sometimes there just aren't words. Then sometimes there are words, but nothing to write them about. Doug Paisley's album falls unhappily between these two positions. When there are good things to be said about it, the words don't come easily. When the failings come to light, there's more to be said, but in no strong terms. How to explain? Well, to start with, this is a very traditional sounding album, in the sense that it sounds like it was recorded in 1979 by Harry Nilsson. The playing is accomplished, the composition very decent. The specifics begin to drift away again...
The opening track ''What About Us?', is downbeat, with shades of Procul Harem and those ancient TV cigar commercials. Paisley's voice is reasonably smooth, but inexplicably double-tracked slightly out of time, which grates. The next track 'Broken In Two' is better, a little faster with excellent acoustic work, but is over in an instant, leaving no lasting trace. 'Digging in the Ground' follows, and once more the band sound like a solid unit, all acoustic, with a dancing descending piano line and a harmony vocal livening things up a bit. But not by much. When 'The Day is Very Long' comes on my blood pressure drops like a stone. Plodding, authentic but soporific... My eyelids struggle to fight the weight that drags them to close. There's nothing bad on offer here, but nothing sensationally good either. Any satisfaction seems to be drawn from the memory of music past; the equivalent of a coma patient tapping their foot in time for a moment or two. Even the mock late era Beatles breakdown at the end doesn't elicit a flicker of excitement.
This is musical wallpaper, and the colour of that wallpaper is taupe, and the texture is woodchip. It's easy to imagine an inverse solution to a hostage situation in an embassy. No Guns 'N Roses or Twisted Sister viciously hammered into the eardrums of the hostages takers. All they'd have to do is pipe Doug Paisley in, and the ultimate mellow numbers would have them tapping out in no time at all. Perhaps it's unfair to mention this, but halfway through writing this up, I managed to put Oneida on by mistake. Luckily, nothing wakes you up better than twenty minutes of intense psyche-prog freak out. Unluckily, it highlighted all the things that Doug Parsley's eponymous debut lacked. Vitality. It left me not wanting good playing, but great playing. Not nice music that I could stick on the background while deciding which type of bread to use for my cheese sandwich, but music that might grab me by the lapels and make me pay attention. Which is something this album was never, ever in danger of doing.
4Tom Perry's Score