Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The First Review: Blake Shelton - Red River Blue

Blake Shelton is one of the biggest artists in all of music right now.  It seems that no matter where you turn, he is in the spotlight.  He has a beautiful new wife, fellow country star Miranda Lambert, a soaring career, both in music and now on Television.  He is now one of the coaches on the new NBC singing show, "The Voice", where his comedic act often steals the show from arguably bigger names, such as Christina Aguilera.  In 2010, Blake released three separate albums, two six-song EPs (Hillbilly Bone and All About Tonight), as well as a "Best Of" album titled "Loaded".  He also has one of the best twitter feeds I have ever seen (He once declared war on PETA, even going so far as to get himself blocked by one of their accounts).

It is easy to see why he has dubbed himself "The Most Interesting Man In Country Music" (If you have not seen the videos, you should definitely check them out).  Right now, he is.  So, with all of this going for him, how does his new album stack up?

"Red River Blue" is the sixth studio album (eighth if you include the EP's) released from Blake.  It has already spawned a number one hit, the song "Honey Bee" which spent about a month as the #1 Country Song in the US.  The album was released on July 12, 2011 and is projected to debut at #1 on the Country Albums chart as well as the Billboard 200 Chart.

Now to look at each track individually:

Honeybee - As mentioned before, this was the first single to be released from "Red River Blue".  The song is definitely catchy, and it is easy to see why it climbed the charts so fast.  In the song, Blake expresses that he is not very good at telling his lover how he feels about her, but he is going to try, admitting that "it came out a little country", saying that if she will be his honeysuckle, he will "Be her honeybee". Overall, this track is fantastic, and I see it being in playlists and bars for a long time.

Ready To Roll - This song  is a fun number, perfect for a Saturday or Sunday theme song with one's baby.  After working all week, Shelton is ready to kick back and just enjoy the day doing nothing, but making sure that all of that "nothing" is done with his baby, saying "We got a whole lot of nothing to do, and nowhere to go.  So baby, I don't know about you, but I'm ready to roll."  I really enjoyed the heavier bass beat that drives this song, and the fingers snapping in the background and simple lyrics set it up to be a fun song for his concerts.

God Gave Me You - The second single to be released from the album, this song is currently climbing the charts and sits at #31.  "God Gave Me You" is one of those slower love songs that shows appreciation for the ones that settle us down, complete us, and most importantly, forgive us when we mess up.  The song is reportedly written for his wife, Miranda Lambert, at a time when he has messed up.  This song serves perfectly in this role.

Get Some - This is one of the goofier songs on the album, but that makes it one of the better ones, because it is where anyone who follows Blake's twitter feed knows he is most at home.  He talks about what he knows best, drinking and sex.  The chorus shows this perfectly: "Everybody get sideways to have a little fun.... Everybody's dyin', To get some".  "Get Some" is written in such a catchy and simple way that makes it perfect for everybody to raise their glasses and sing along in the bars. This song is one of my favorites from the album.

Drink On It - If anyone is noticing a trend, it is that Blake Shelton likes two things: Women and Alcohol.  "Drink On It" is no exception.  It is a "bar room love song", which finds the singer hitting on a girl who is preparing to leave, as she has to work tomorrow and has a lot on her mind.  But instead of giving up, Blake buys another round and suggests that they "Drink on it".  The song is about as smooth as a guy tries to be in the situation, and it works.

Good Ole Boys - This fun song follows in a growing trend of wondering what happened to the new generation of teens and "adults" and why has it changed so much from how it used to be.  The song opens, "Well every time I turn around/ I see some dude dressed like a clown/ Baggy pants and a cap on sideways/ They don't say ma'am or sir no more/ They won't even hold a door/ for a woman well it's a cryin' shame".  The title and older style of country suggests a nod to Waylon Jennings.  The spoken part at the end is definitely worth listening to, as is the entire song.

I'm Sorry - Martina McBride makes a guest appearance on the sad song "I'm Sorry", but personally, I do not think she is featured enough here.  The singer's girl has left, but come back saying she is sorry, but as he points out "I'm sorry/ Sometimes sorry/ just ain't good enough".  I am not a big fan of this song, as it is just a bit too slow and depressing for my taste.

Sunny In Seattle - This is one of those feel good serenades.  One in which the singer pretty much says that there is no way in hell that he will stop loving his woman.  He states that the only way his love will end is "When it's sunny in Seattle, and snowin' down in New Orleans".   It feels a little out of place and ironic after "I'm Sorry", which is a shame because it really is another solid, catchy tune.

Over - Another serenade, but this one with the singer wondering what it would take to GET the girl.  He starts out laying out everything he would do if she were his, "I would dare/ Feed your dreams/ and starve your fears".   The tone and style of the chorus, however, feels and sounds a lot like "She Wouldn't Be Gone" off of Blake's "Startin' Fires" album.  This song, though, ends up as a "meh" on an album containing a lot of good songs.

Hey - This is probably my favorite song of the album, and with it, Blake returns to his fun loving side.  Blake uses the word "Hey" (or its heterograph "Hay").  The song is a fun, upbeat song, and gives a shout-out to you no matter what your truck of choice is: "Hey, Hey/ Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet/ Diff'rent Stroke for Diff'rent folks" and then launches into one of the best interactions of the song.  Overall, it is a great song that I am sure is going to be a lot of fun to drive to.

Red River Blue - The title (and final) track to the the album swings back to the sad side of country music.  The singer stands on the Oklahoma side of the Red River, looking out across into Texas (where his baby lives) and wondering what went wrong to end his recent relationship.  Wife Miranda Lambert makes an appearance on this track, and the two really work well together.  Even though it is not as upbeat as the music I typically like, it is still among the strongest tracks on the album.

Overall, "Red River Blue" is a solid album for one of the biggest careers in music.  Blake really shines when he is singing about the stuff that he is known for, comedy, alcohol and women.  I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of country music.  8/10.

Update:  It is official, "Red River Blue" debuts atop the Billboard 200, having sold more than 115,000 copies.