Blake Shelton - "Blake Shelton" Sept 27, 2015 17:18:09 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Sept 27, 2015 17:18:09 GMT -5
Blake Shelton (2001)
By: Blake Shelton
By: Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton is one of the country artist who started out as somebody who was clear on forging his own path as a singer, forgoing the music that your "grandpa listened to" in favor of something decidedly more contemporary. His present roots have taken him in a more poppier route, but his 2001, eponymous debut album serves as a solid benchmark for the great singer he was. While it's disappointing to learn he only cowrote three songs on the album (two of which being average and one being fairly good), Shelton's talent as somebody who can make his pliable voice fit numerous different styles is a remarkable feat few have.
Consider "Every Time I Look at You," the album's opener, which serves as a rollicking kick-off to an album filled with love songs, ditties, and the yearning more creative, original ballads. Here, Shelton exercises his voice to tremendous vocal heights, showing his uncanny ability to kick off a line dance at the town pub with just a couple traditional chords and his biggest weapon, his voice. With that, "All Over Me" shows his ability to strain his voice to hit the classic country yodel in a way that's equal parts original as it is a more modern take on the country call, and "I Thought There Was Time" slows things down to bring a regretful sincerity to his voice that few artists could handle with conviction.
But then there are the album's two additional singles alongside "All Over Me" that stick out the most. First, there's "Ol' Red," a song I've loved since my youth. It's a rugged, dirt-road-born story of a man imprisoned serving a ninety-nine year sentence after murdering his wife's lover. After making friends with the warden, he's sentenced to caring for the prison's beloved hounddog Ol' Red, who has been catching escapees for years thanks to his unbelievable senses. Our narrator plans to use his senses in order to work on an ingenuous escape of his own, and Shelton turns a threat from the warden as an infectious spoken-word chorus that makes this simple tune a huge winner.
Finally, there's "Austin," one of the most romantic and original love songs I've heard in the modern age. It concerns a couple in the middle of a break from one another, one where they've gone a full year without talking. He has been living a life of solitude and simple pleasures and figures that his love is long-gone, despite still holding on. Off the cuff, she phones him one day and realizes his answering machine message is also a message to her. It states: "If you're callin' 'bout the car, I sold it; if this is Tuesday night, I'm bowlin'. If you got something to sell, you're wasting your time, I'm not buyin'. If it's anybody else, wait for the tone, you know what to do. And P.S., if this is Austin, I still love you." What entails is a tearjerking display of affection on the woman's behalf to try and let her lover know she still cares for him, amazed he's hung on for so long.
These two tremendously crafted singles almost, almost disguise Blake Shelton as a winning collection of country music, but if one looks past the strength of these two songs, this is a slightly underwhelming debut. Shelton takes the easy way out multiple times, particularly with "Same Old Song," a song that is, more or less, trivial bitching and moaning about the lack of creativity and smothering sameness in country music. Instead of writing a song complaining and yearning for different music, wouldn't it have been wise to write an original ballad along the lines of what you wanted instead? Then there's "Problems at Home," a horribly uneven and treacly ballad that has our narrator addressing the atrocities of murder around the world, in addition to broken homelives of others, but then tacks on his problems, noting they aren't comparative, but still need attention. I fully understand the concept and purpose of the song as a means of examining the validity of all problems in the world, but its presentation is uneven and full of saccharine sentiment that really shows the variety of songwriting being done by people other than Shelton.
Blake Shelton is a fine debut, and it's pleasantly concise too, as most country albums of this era generally are, and the fact that it's buoyed by two tremendous songs almost, almost make it worth checking out. However, they can't mask the general uneven display of songwriting on display here.
Recommended tracks (in order): "Austin," "Ol' Red," and "Every Time I See You."