Sound — 6
"Sha-doo-bie, shattered, shattered!" Blake Shelton has quite a bit on his plate as his new super-hit CD goes on sale. There are unsubstantiated allegations of infidelity with 23 year-old artist Cady Groves. He also must balance recording, touring and television appearances, all of which are pulling him in many directions simultaneously. The disjointed nature of this collection reflects his scattered schedule. Blake Shelton and his superstar wife Miranda Lambert virtually swept the most recent and coveted 46th annual CMA awards with Shelton recieving (male)Song, Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year, and Lambert honored with (female)Song and Female Vocalist of the year. I personally felt that we were watching a King and Queen of country music anointed the likes of which we have not seen since Johnny Cash and June Carter or Les Paul and Mary Ford. The much anticipated assemblage has already performed impressively. Despite any flaws it soared to the #1 spot on Billboard's Hot Country Chart instantly. The prerelease single "Sure Be Cool If You Did" (January 8th, 2013) sold 98,000. Downloads it's first week, and hit #1 this week (March 30th, 2013) on the reliable Bob Kingsley Chart, and #2 and still climbing on Billboard country songs. "Boys 'Round Here" is at #15 on the same Billboard list after just a few days. However even Blake himself admitted in an interview with USA Today "... It's a pretty light album." The raucous "I've Still Got A Finger", (yeah, THAT finger) is a nod to Johnny Paycheck's classic "Take This Job And Shove It". Perhaps Shelton should remember that "... Shove It" was penned by the infamous Davis Allan Coe. His rhyme of sh-t with spit leaves very little room for editing on "Boys 'Round Here", a salutation to Hank Williams Jr.'s style. None of this will stem the sales and chart dominance rewarded to this new crowned head of country.
Lyrics — 5
Shelton's style is nothing short of perfection, and he effortlessly rolls out classic interpretations that mesmerize with good reason. His comfortable easy drawl and natural traditional sound are the most infectious attributes of the effort. The lyrical content is a completely different discussion. The trite and predictable poetry is just so mundane. The boisterous prose seems so out of character and misplaced. All of it feels contrived to curry favor with the Nashville standard-bearers that Blake seems to revere. But why? HE IS IT right now, and as our new leader, he should lead! His time to kowtow has passed. Everything that he has done both positive and negative has brought him here. What is he afraid of?
Overall Impression — 7
I find myself nodding and tapping my toes to "Small Town Big Time", and the premise is cool. You don't have to be rich and famous to have a great time, fun is an equal opportunity. He took a big chance with the exaggerated pitch correction reminiscent of disco, but it actually works. Kudos to Mr. Shelton. "Sure Be Cool If You Did" is silky smooth with the slide into an arpeggio. So simple yet so effective, everything a popular guitar riff should be. "Graddaddys Gun" is quite endearing. "Country On The Radio" is clever, but it, "Ten Times Crazier" and the lauded "Mine Would Be You" seem so standardized and cranked out. Though I yearn for more originality "Based On A True Story..." offers up pleasant and breezy melodies that will be immensely popular.