Doug Paisley Goes on a Journey of the Heart with 'Say What You Like'

BY Erica Commisso Published Mar 16, 2023

In press materials for Say What You Like, Doug Paisley outlined his appreciation for the little ironies of folk and country music, the way words can "suspend a point or an idea without bringing it down too hard in any one place, like an X-wing in a dogfight." That inspiration runs rampant on his ninth full-length, a record that moves between genres and moods with a deft touch. 

It's not quite country and it's not quite folk either, pulling elements from each to create a record suited for a bittersweet road trip or a sandy beach — music for windswept hair and a pensive, introspective mood. 

The title track, alongside second single "Sometimes It's So Easy" offer a melancholic yet positive outlook on a situation where two people separate. Crucially, though, it never lands on an easy answer or a clean sense of closure — on Paisley's songs, things are rarely so cut and dry. Tracks like "Make It a Double" capitalize on Paisley's country twang, bringing Paisley's decade and a half living and recording in Nashville to the forefront. "Make it a double for her and me / I know the troubles I can still see," he croons, while a country beat sways happily in the background. 

Folk and singer-songwriter influences take centre stage on tracks like "Wide Open Plain" and "I Wanted It Too Much," with the latter in particular exuding a melancholic, reflective feel that make you regret relationships that almost happened but never did. "Never asked myself am I okay? / I don't know where the story changed / There's so many ways to get rearranged," he muses, strumming a guitar. "Don't it look like everybody's coming up when you're on your way down?" 

The album itself was pieced together from a trove of over 250 tracks that Paisley wrote over the last decade, distilled by Bahamas producer Afie Jurvanen to a sterling 11. From that enormous swath of songs, Paisley and Jurvanen uncovered an unflinchingly and unapologetically self-reflective journey of the heart, plumbing the depths of love, career and middle age. 

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