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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

Review: Brad Paisley – Diary of a Player

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Brad Paisley - Diary of a PlayerI’ve been wanting to read this book since it first came out a couple of years ago, but I’d never been able to justify the price (with it being an American book and not widely available in the UK). But my brother bought me it for Christmas this year and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Brad Paisley is one of my favourite artists, and definitely one of my favourite country artists. His music is beautiful and inspiring, but also funny and catchy. I was pleased to find out more about the man behind the music. The book was primarily about his influences and the people who inspired him to become a musician, starting from his Grandfather buying him a guitar for Christmas, right through to meeting these country music legends and being honoured with the ability to play right alongside them.

As well as finding out a lot about Brad Paisley, this book also gave me a small insight into how the country music world works, and it’s a lot like I expected. It seems like no matter how famous you are, you’re still supportive of those up-and-coming artists who are looking to make it as big as you.

The book lets you in on Brad’s personal life too, for example the crazy story behind how he met his wife. But the part of the book that stuck with me the most was the end when he describes how his Grandad died, the biggest influence on his life taken too early and before he could see the success that he inspired. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried when I read this part.

This was a really well written auto-biography, it seemed very personal and friendly, almost like you were sat down with him listening to him reminiscing on the past.

5-5

Top 15 Albums of 2011

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I know we’re now over a week into 2012, but I was thinking today about the best music that I heard in 2011, and I thought I’d turn it into a blog post. I’ve been told (quite often) that I have a very weird taste in music. I wouldn’t necessarily say weird, but maybe a little random and eclectic. I tried to put them into order, but that was too hard, so here they are in no particular order:

1. Wakey!Wakey! – Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You…

I love love love this album. I first heard the song Dance So Good on an episode of One Tree Hill and immediately fell in love with it. I’ve been to see Wakey!Wakey! live 3 times this year, twice in Nottingham and once in Manchester. Every time was completely epic, the songs have so much more passion live, and Mike Grubbs is hilarious. My favourite song is Almost Everything, the refrain of ‘It feels bad now but it’s gonna get better‘ is the best line from the album in my opinion. I only picked one Wakey!Wakey! album for the list, but I could easily have included others. A special mention to Wakey!Wakey! Wednesdays, which is a CD of cover songs, and of which I am the proud owner of a limited edition copy.

2. Chris Young – Neon

Over the past couple of years, I have developed a particular soft spot for country music, and Chris Young is my absolute favourite, his voice is so rich and smooth. I love the diversity of country music albums, from the completely random (but totally catchy) Save Water Drink Beer, to the completely beautiful Old Love Feels New. There’s no sad songs on this album like Flowers from his first album, which is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard, although is also one of my favourites.

3. Luke Bryan – Doin’ My Thing

This album is another country music favourite, and like Chris Young, has a wide variety of songs on it. Rain is a Good Thing is about exactly what it sounds, but is so so catchy. Once I hear it, it’s in my head for the rest of the day. I have two favourites from the album, Do I and Apologize. Do I is a song from a guy asking his girlfriend is she still loves him, and the words are really emotional. Apologize is a cover of a OneRepublic song which was originally released in 2006, but I love the words, and I much prefer Luke Bryan’s version to the original.

4. Casey Shea – Love Is Here To Stay

Casey Shea is another artist that I have been to see live this year, twice – in Nottingham and Manchester. He has such a laid back style on his albums, which carried over into his live sets, although with a bit more oomph on the vocals. My favourite song is Good Man, I love the chorus: ‘When the black clouds come wash over you, will you stand tall and strong, or blame it on luck‘. I got his new album (In Your Head) towards the end of the year, but I haven’t really listened to it enough yet to include it on the list.

5. Pearl and the Beard – Killing the Darlings

I went to see Pearl and the Beard live in Manchester in November, and they were awesome. I found it hard to pick which of their albums to add on the list, but I had to narrow it down so the list didn’t end up 50 albums long! The catchiest song on this album has to be Douglas Douglass, its a floor stamping, hand clapping song that’ll be stuck in your head for days. I also love the cello and the soft vocals on The Lament of Coronado Brown.

6. To Kill a King – My Crooked Saint (EP)

I’ve seen To Kill a King live three times this year as a support act to Wakey!Wakey! I cannot wait for their headline tour this year, if I can get tickets and time off work. This album was much anticipated, I first saw them live in June, but the album didn’t come out until October. They released a series of videos to go with the EP, which were well thought out and very effective in combination with the songs. Even though the album only had 4 songs, I still had to include it on this list as I listened to it so much.

7. Brad Paisley – This is Country Music

I’ve got lots of Brad Paisley albums, so when this came out in May, it was a sure buy. I have two favourite songs from this album. Remind Me, which is a duet with Carrie Underwood about two people trying to remember how it was back when they were in love. My absolute favourite is One of Those Lives, which is a poignant song about how we should all stop complaining about bad days and think of those that have it worse than we do. I liked this song so much, I wrote a blog post about it earlier this year.

8. Blake Shelton – Red River Blue

I discovered Blake Shelton this year through an iTunes recommendation, and I’m so glad I clicked the link and found this album. My favourite song from this album is definitely God Gave Me You. The lyrics are really beautiful; For when I think I’ve lost my way, there are no words here left to say, it’s true. God gave me you. Other highlights from this album include Honey Bee and Addicted. 

9. Miranda Lambert – Revolution

Miranda Lambert is married to Blake Shelton, so its safe to say that’s a pretty talented couple. I’m not usually a fan of female country music singers, but Miranda Lambert is one of the exceptions, this album is so catchy. There are some pretty silly songs like Time to Get a Gun and That’s The Way That The World Goes Round, but then there’s also some really lovely songs like The House That Built Me.

10. Adele – 21

I was threatened with actual bodily harm if this album didn’t make the list (thanks Vicky), so it’s a good job I was going to add it anyway. There’s not really much to say about this album that hasn’t already been said by many people, so I’ll just say that I’ve sung along to this album a LOT of times in my car, and there isn’t a single song I don’t like.

11. Bruno Mars – Doo-Wops and Hooligans

I bought this album at the start of the year, and it’s so catchy. I listened to it a lot driving to Sheffield and back to pick Vicky up from work, so every time a song from this album comes on, I get flashbacks of the M1 at 10pm on a Saturday night, and completely random and bonkers conversations on the way home.

12. The Overtones – Good Ol’ Fashioned Love

This album is completely different to my usual kinds of music, but it’s one of my favourites. My iTunes library has classified these as a Doo Wop band, which is a pretty cool name for a genre. I just love the old songs like Blue Moon, and the covers of new songs like Only Girl in the World and Rolling in the Deep.  I was sent an email about tickets for their tour, and I was about to book when I realised it wasn’t until December 2012. Who knows what I’m going to be doing that far in advance, so I thought I’d better not!

13. Ron Pope – 26 Tuesdays of Music

Okay, so this one doesn’t quite classify as an album, but close enough. From July to December last year, Ron Pope released one song a week, delivered direct to your inbox. It was a great idea for getting new music out, and he used it as a chance to experiment with different types of songs. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I would probably go for Reason to Hope and Got My Mojo Working, along with a new version of I’m Yours. I’m seeing Ron Pope live for the first time next month, it’s gonna be awesome!

14. Tim Hughes – Love Shine Through

Tim Hughes is my favourite Christian artist, and I missed this album for a couple of months after it first came out. When I finally bought it, I listened to it on repeat for at least two weeks. It’s the kind of album where you really need to listen to the lyrics, which as usual for Tim Hughes, were completely fantastic. He has an amazing ability to write songs that you can immediately feel connected with, which I think is what makes this such a brilliant album.

15. Eli Young Band – Life at Best

After buying Jet Black and Jealous at the start of the year, I liked it so much I bought a few other albums later on in the year. This is one I bought in August, and was kind of the soundtrack to my summer. Even if it Breaks Your Heart is my favourite. The chorus line ‘Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart‘ is a great line. I think my favourite song from the album is I Love You, a very simple song but really connects with you.

Well this list kind of turned out longer than I thought, so if you’ve got this far, thanks for reading (or scrolling really fast)! Leave me a comment and let me know if you agree/disagree with any of my choices, and let me know your favourite album from last year.

top-15-albums-of-2011

Just what I needed…

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There have been a couple of times in the last week or so when I have heard/read something that was exactly what I needed.

I have a couple of Bible reading plans, one is a 100 day reading plan in an old book I bought from Wesley Owen, and the other is Project 3:45 on YouVersion (great website btw – check it out). Last week, this came up on my reading plan and I thought it was perfect.

1 Peter 5:6-9
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

On my way home from work tonight, I was listening to Brad Paisley’s new album, and the song ‘One of those lives’ came on. The words are very thought provoking, and really put me back into perspective again.

Brad Paisley – One of Those Lives
Man, it’s been one of those days
When I’ve been thinkin’ poor me
I’ve got no right to complain I guess
‘Cause right now all I can see
Is a little angel in a Yankees cap
It makes me realize
It’s just been one of those days for me
But for him it’s been one of those lives

Sometimes, the answer is no

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On the day that Brad Paisley’s new album has been released, I wanted to share my favourite Brad Paisley song – No. I love the words to this song. It is very easy to think that God isn’t listening if you are praying for something and it doesn’t seem like you get want you want, but God knows how your life should go, and sometimes, the answer is no. We just need to realise that this God has a plan, and everything will work out.

Make no mistake, every prayer you pray,
gets answered, even though,
sometimes, the answer is no.

When I think of all the answers in my life, I would have to say,
There’s no doubt it was always for the best,
When I didn’t get my way.