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Album Review: “If I’m Honest” by Blake Shelton

Grade: B-

The center of a lot of recent social drama, Blake Shelton released his newest album “If I’m Honest” in May 2016. A few of the songs that fall along his list of hits include: “Ol’ Red”, “Honey Bee”, “Boys ‘Round Here”, and more recently, “She’s Got a Way With Words”. Blake Shelton has also recently been the big shot of gossip considering his somewhat recent divorce and very recent public announcement of engagement with pop singer Gwen Stefani. I suspect that his romantic situation played more than a little part in the creation of this album.

In fact, Shelton seems to use his album as a way to describe the spectrum of emotions he has been feeling over the past year. The album starts off with five songs singing notes of heartbreak, four of “how to deal with a breakup” instructions, and five about moving on.

There is only one exception to this. His very first song “Straight Outta Cold Beer” which serves as a good old fashioned country boy roundup fit for any honky-tonk around. Sadly, this is also his shortest song on the album and the best in my opinion. This single comes fully equipped with southern twang, a background banjo, and plenty of references to a small country town where people truly know how to party. It is a necessary addition to any backcountry playlist.

His newest hit “She’s Got a Way With Words” comes in at number two on the album and provides a playful twist on a country breakup tune. Filled with intelligent wordplay, I speculate that this song describes the effect of Miranda on Shelton’s look on love. From “putting the ‘y’ in ‘try’ to the ‘ex’ in ‘sex’,” we get a small glimpse into what could have happened between them. Aside from possible hidden meanings, we get a smooth song to sway our hips to while mulling over lost lovers. This song is a relief from all of the heavier melancholy breakup songs we so often hear.

Skipping down the list, at number nine on his album Shelton has “Go Ahead and Break My Heart (feat. Gwen Stefani)”. I was very curious to see how he and his new fiancé would sound together considering their very different musical genres. Neither artist has delved much into the other’s musical style. Nevertheless I was pleasantly surprised with their collaboration. Gwen Stefani’s smooth, deep melodies provided a wonderful contrast to Shelton’s classic and thick southern accent.

Now for the “Low in Blow”. His seventh song “It Ain’t Easy” is a step out of bounds for Shelton. Definitely not just country inspired, Shelton takes a lot of cues from what I can only assume is jazz. He includes a barrage of effects not normally included in country albums. I can’t say that I welcomed the sound; it was not what I expected, and for it to be the only one like it on the album makes it seem out of place.

Although a fun addition, “Doing it to a Country Song (feat. The Oak Ridge Boys)” is a bit too literal and repetitive than appreciated. In fact, its simple lyric structure makes it sound like an inappropriate kids song.

As a whole the album was very intelligently planned out and provides a great range of emotional ventures, both happy and sad. Aside from the few hits that tend to be played on the radio now and then, his songs were good. Considering his hits also happen to be placed first in the lineup, it sets you up for more than you get.

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