Written by Chris Dubois, Ashley Gorley, and Brad Paisley
Many years from now, when Brad Paisley is headlining in his own Branson music theater, he’ll have to do a couple of medleys to cover his lesser hits in the set list. I’m willing to bet that “Then” and “Today” will be one of those medleys.
For me, Brad Paisley has always come off more as a studious observer of country music than a truly great artist within it. He knows how to construct a country song from start to finish, but not how to disguise his work so that it sounds authentic and seamless. It’s like he comes up with a central idea – “Then,” “Today,” “Water,” “The World” – and crafts a song around it, running the idea into the ground by the second verse.
Medleys will work great as a survey of his catalog because with most of his songs, you don’t need to hear the whole thing to get the general idea. He’s more carpenter than storyteller, working from a blueprint instead of emotion and experience. That’s a talent in its own right, but it doesn’t result in music that is compelling or particularly memorable.