Personnel: Eric Paslay (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, hammer dulcimer); Jedd Hughes, Jerry McPherson, Jake Campbell, Tom Bukovac, Adam Shoenfeld, Rob McNelley (electric guitar); Ilya Toshinskiy (banjo, mandolin); Jonathan Yudkin (mandolin, fiddle); Marshall Altman (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, percussion, programming, background vocals); Tim Lauer (piano, Hammond b-3 organ, keyboards); Tony Harrell (piano, Hammond b-3 organ); Shannon Forrest (drums); Kimberly Schlapman, Jessi Alexander, Little Big Town, Phillip Sweet, Natalie Hemby, Karen Fairchild , Jimi Westbrook (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: F. Reid Shippen.
Photographer: Eric Adkins.
Texas-born Eric Paslay is one of the new breed of country artists who understand how Nashville works, that everything starts with a good song, and that the publishing rights to that song are where the money is. Not that Paslay is all about money or anything, but he studied everything about the music business when he attended Middle Tennessee State University, earning an internship at Cal4 Entertainment in his senior year, which in turn led to a publishing deal, the surest way to break into Nashville's inner circle. Of course, a publishing deal doesn't mean the songs will sell, but Paslay, as this eponymous debut album shows, has obviously also studied what will, and he's already had several of his songs place high in the country charts by other artists, including Jake Owen ("Barefoot Blue Jean Night") and Love and Theft ("Angel Eyes"), and has done pretty well on his own with the singles "Never Really Wanted," "If the Fish Don't Bite," and his most recent and most successful single, "Friday Night." All of these songs ("Friday Night" and "Never Really Wanted" are included on this album) are built around simple themes, with catchy choruses that stick in the ear without much effort. Paslay isn't trying to change the world with his songs, but he does want you to remember them without much strain, and if there's a secret to success in Nashville, that just might be it -- keep it simple and catchy. This self-titled debut release doesn't change the landscape of contemporary country, but it sure recognizes it, and that's Paslay's songwriting strength. He doesn't try to do too much here, other than deliver a good song. He understands the business, he understands his audience, and he understands the marketplace. A song you can sing along to on first listen will always win. ~ Steve Leggett