Review: Shelton's album is a mix of show-stoppers, gimmicks

AP News
|
Posted: May 19, 2016 4:59 PM
Review: Shelton's album is a mix of show-stoppers, gimmicks

Blake Shelton, "If I'm Honest" (Warner Music Nashville)

If his time on "The Voice" has done anything for Blake Shelton, it has sent him further down the road toward crowd-pleasing, show-stopping songs that build toward a moment when the audience can no longer contain itself.

There's plenty of that on "If I'm Honest," his latest album. And make no mistake, it's a country road he's traveling on — with hard-to-miss overtones from his high-profile personal life.

The least subtle of these is a duet, "Go Ahead and Break My Heart," which he co-wrote with Gwen Stefani, his current love interest. It seems reasonable to interpret it as a move-on song for both as they put their respective divorces behind them.

Whether any of Shelton's new music stands the test of time will take, well, a little time. The album alternates between the swelling show-stoppers and "straight outta that dirty South" self-consciousness that's a little heavy on the John Deere tractor references.

Some Shelton fans will love that, of course, but it feels like the Oklahoma native has been spending a lot of time explaining the South at Hollywood cocktail parties.

It's when he settles down and just sings that Shelton delivers music that could last. A love song called "One Night Girl" swells with emotional sincerity, and "Savior's Shadow," a gospel song about faith, also feels like he means it.

Shelton, at his best, is a country boy who tells you just what he's thinking and has a knack for bringing the house down. And if he's honest, some of what he's thinking just might have staying power.