Doug Paisley

REVIEW: Doug Paisley “Say What You Like”


Doug Paisley – Say What You Like

Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Paisley has come up with some new self-reflective tunes that were bottled up long ago, set aside & only now are ripe enough for durable ears. His first collection since 2018’s “Starter Home.” This set brings together some of the better choices from 250 unrecorded songs that spanned more than a decade. Many are personal & explore the struggles of the individual & sometimes with a voice & groove that sounds as if it came from the same soil as the late J.J. Cale.

Doug Paisley

The 11-track Say What You Like (Drops March 17–Outside Music) was produced by Afie Jurvanen & features reliable performances that are crisp, rural & warm. Paisley often provides a repertoire that is unadorned & relying more on purity than show business. What’s evident is Doug’s originality since he isn’t wholly in anyone’s camp. There’s a Townes van Zandt-John Prine quality to his showcase but Doug is his own man.

The folk, country & pop leanings that are displayed are intertwined gently between his country-coloring melodies & words. There’s no intensity breathing down his neck – the songs are the most important feature & they don’t need to be biting or making statements. Doug will explore the shortcomings of love, growing old & his clever use of language – something that’s in short order among younger artists today.


Paisley writes songs that are easily accessible, relatable & not always typical. Anyone who has 250 unrecorded songs over a decade of work in their surplus songbook must have something to say.

In one of John Prine’s last interviews at home with CBS-TV, he brought out several boxes of unfinished songs to show a reporter that writer’s block isn’t always an issue with him. He would just return to his boxes of unpolished ideas & scraps of words & polish them up. This is basically what Doug has done with this set. Yesterday’s discards become tomorrow’s little classics.


Like Prine, Doug is neither a country singer, folk troubadour, or balladeer. But he could be all of them. He’s a diversified singer-songwriter who through his tales can be cheerful, dark, introspective, or just confessional. This latest CD provides a cross-section of not the “latest” by Doug Paisley — but the orphans. Or, if you’re a fisherman – some of the ones that could’ve gotten away.

Highlights – “Say What You Like” & “Sometimes It’s So Easy.”

B&W photography courtesy of Dave Gillespie. CD @ Amazon & Bandcamp +

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