There is an ominous grey area somewhere between folk and country where many acts find themselves when producing music. Somehow their music doesn’t quite hit the foot-stomping anthems that the best folk artists are able to create, nor do they sing the heartfelt ballad of a relatable story like supreme country artists do. Unfortunately for Doug Paisley, his latest album Strong Feelings falls into this dull area of not folk, but not quite country either.

Strong Feelings is the Torontonian’s third full-length album and mostly features Paisley’s crooning voice, finger-picked guitar and lightly brushed drums. The twangy AM alternative country sound that the record boasts is extremely gloomy in nature, which leaves a lot to be desired in comparison to other acts of this genre.

To add to the dreary effect of Strong Feelings, Paisley’s central theme is mortality and the unavoidable ending to life, as well as the expiration of relationships we forge along the way.

A focus on such melancholy topics is enough to turn anyone off alternative country, which is unfortunate because the best artists from this genre are invigorating and ignite bright life into their listeners. Contrary to this, Paisley’s songs successfully awaken feelings of loss and suffering within listeners, which can be attributed to his impressive lyricism.

In the track “Old Times” Paisley sings, “I turned the ground and found the roots still burning/A night moon that lingers in blue sky brings a yearning/If it takes a waterfall to drown all my doubts/Sometimes it takes a lie to let me know what it’s all about.”

Aside from the track “To and Fro” which shows Paisley in a less depressive state, most of the album is stoic and one-noted. His best efforts are “What’s Up Is Down” and “Because I Love You,” where he duets with Toronto singer Mary Margaret.

Paisley showcases genuine emotion and strong musical styling in the form of instrumental mastery and lyricism in Strong Feelings, but it is not the type of album that will be playing on repeat for anyone who lives a life focused on good feelings like joy and the beauty of life, instead of the inevitable pain we all suffer through and our eventual demise.

By Kayla Beattie

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