It’s safe to say that Blake Shelton is on a little bit of a roll. Last November at the CMA Awards, Blake took home the prestigious Male Vocalist of the Year trophy. In May, he married country star Miranda Lambert and, earlier this summer, he served as a celebrity coach on the hit NBC singing competition The Voice.
With five full-length albums and two six-pack EPs under his belt, Blake is truly coming into his own. On his new album, Red River Blue, Blake continually displays this sense of ease amidst summer songs and power ballads, while pushing himself to take some adventurous chances.
From the laid-back rhythm guitar of the mid-tempo first single, “Honey Bee,” the album kicks off with a vibe that begs for summertime radio at the beach. Blake’s voice is smooth and rich while working self-assured lines like, Yeah, that came out a little country/ but every word was right on the money when describing the song’s own chorus referencing, among other things, honey suckle and whiskey. On the front porch acoustic picker “Get Some,” Blake cleverly plays off the word ‘get’ among dobro, acoustic guitars and old time honky tonk piano. “You get hungry, you get chicken, your get-tar, needs pickin’,” he sings through a catchy rhythm pattern before going out on a Friday night to go “get some” good memories with a bunch of friends.
Produced by Scott Hendricks (Brooks & Dunn, Trace Adkins), the collection features a handful of power ballads including the standout track “I’m Sorry.” After a soft acoustic guitar/piano intro and verse, the chorus erupts as Blake sings, Well I’m sorry, but sometimes ‘sorry’ just ain’t good enough over a R&B-tinged chord progression. Blake pushes himself here vocally with lines like, I remember every time you said you loved me/ but I know now your love was just a lie with an incredibly soulful and powerful delivery, matching the song’s bluesy feeling. On “God Gave Me You,” an Adult Contemporary-leaning track, rolling acoustic guitar lines and large-scale production featuring strings and a dose of electronic drum tracking provide the foundation for a climactic chorus. There’s more here than what we’re seeing/ a divine conspiracy, Blake sings of bigger hands at work to bring him closer to his true love.
Blake’s new bride, Miranda, joins him on the album’s title track and closing song “Red River Blue.” A slow traditional acoustic ballad featuring sad pedal steel, “Red River Blue” tells a story of heartache. Tex-oma sky, tears in my eyes/ She said goodbye, and now I’m Red River blue the couple sings in fluid harmony.
Blake seems more comfortable than ever on Red River Blue. It resonates through his warm voice and songs that set the mood for summer nights at the beach, relaxing on the porch or a soundtrack for taking it easy with that special someone. Given the roll Blake is on, Red River Blue is a solid indication that more good things are sure to come.