September 25, 2012
At his best, Brad Paisley has at times demonstrated the rare ability to balance fresh and modern contemporary sounds with a nod toward
traditional country genre conventions. On his tasteless new single “Southern Comfort Zone,” that strength sounds it’s been totally buried.
The bombastic arrangement sounds like it was lifted right out of Tim McGraw’s Emotional Traffic, and Paisley’s vocal is slathered in grating, ill-advised reverb effects. All the noise is so distracting that it’s difficult to even make out what Paisley is singing about, let alone become invested in the lyric on any meaningful level. It’s hardly country by any stretch of the imagination, and it plainly just sounds bad.
It’s hardly a potent song to begin with. The lyrics of “Southern Comfort Zone” remain squarely inside country radio’s comfort zone, with the song’s titular pun being the height of the song’s cleverness. The depthless verses continue to indulge the notion that the south is the last refuge for people who go to church, listen to country and gospel music, wear jeans and ball caps, etc. I can give some credit for leaving out the Aldean-esque aggression, but that doesn’t redeem the song’s total lack of purposeful focus, nor the tin-eared trainwreck of a production.
If you want to hear a good song about Southern nostalgia, stick with Dolly Parton’s “Tennessee Homesick Blues.” Paisley’s “Southern Comfort Zone” is a misguided, watery mess.
Listen: Southern Comfort Zone