Friday, July 29, 2011

Blake Shelton - Red River Blue (CD Review)

Blake Shelton - Red River Blue (CD Review)

1. Honey Bee 2. Ready To Roll 3. God Gave Me You 4. Get Some 5. Drink On It
6. Good Ole Boys 7. I’m Sorry 8. Sunny In Seattle 9. Over 10. Hey 11. Red River Blue
12. Chill - Bonus Track 13. Addicted - Bonus Track

Label - 2011 Warner Bros. Records Inc. (Wrasse Records)
Release Date - 12 July 2011
UPC - 093624958482
Lyrics - Included
Time - 45:30

Following on from the commercial success of 2010’s two separate "six pack" EPs and the fast-selling 2011 record breaker and platinum #1 single ‘Honey Bee’ (with 138,000 digital downloads in its first week), the moment was ripe to release a new album. With a wedding to Miranda Lambert pending and TV commitments as a celebrity judge on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ the time schedule for the Ada, Oklahoma born and current CMA Male Vocalist was tight to meet the recording deadline. Producer Scott Hendricks enlisted some of Nashville’s finest players and Music Rows A-list songwriters to hit the right targets. Blake Shelton explained they were relatable songs: "I'm getting married in about a month and just really feeling good about everything in my life. It's definitely songs from a guy wishing I could freeze this moment for the rest of time" he said.

The lead-off ‘Honey Bee’, Shelton’s fourth straight chart topper was penned by two thirds of The Peach Pickers, Ben Hayslip & Rhett Akins, the third member Dallas Davidson contributes with a solo cut on the latter ‘Good Ole Boys’. The first idea for the song was to call it Huckleberry then it became honeysuckle and the line: “You be my honeysuckle, I'll be your honey bee” evolved. Shelton reels off a series of comedic expressions to show his love and win over the girl’s attention. With lines like – “You'll be my Louisiana, I'll be your Mississippi, You be my little Loretta, I'll be your Conway Twitty” -It worked!

The soulful, finger-clicking ‘Ready To Roll’ is an infectious toe-tapper and features some lively bass runs and nifty guitar riffs. ‘God Gave Me You’ is a power ballad, originally recorded and written by Christian rock singer Dave Barnes. With an arrangement that would not be out of place on a Coldplay record this is a track with strong crossover possibilities.

Spirits run high on the thank-god-it’s-Friday number ‘Get Some’ by Craig Wiseman, Chris Tompkins and Zac Maloy. On this acoustic picker the humour flows like beer from the raised Dixie cups whilst friends gather round an old-time honky-tonk piano to lend their voices to the chorus. He gets drunk, he get’s the girl, he gets her home, he gets her done, he gets hitched, she gets mad, she gets a lawyer, she gets half - Whether this track will have legs is another matter!

Drink On It’ is a laid back cut written by Rodney Clawson (Faith Hill) with “Whiskey Lullaby” artist Jon Randall and his partner Jessi Alexander who also adds background vocals. It has a refreshing melody reminiscent of a 90’s mid-tempo Reba McEntire number as two potential lovers meet and try to figure out their next moves – “Got a good thing going girl, lets find out what it is and drink on it

Blake tips his hat to Hank Williams Jr and Waylon Jennings on the honky-tonk fuelled ‘Good Ole Boys‘ as he begs the question - Where the hell did all the good ole boys go?

From its beautiful soft opening tensions quickly build when love becomes an empty word on ‘I’m Sorry’ with Martina McBride providing the backing vocals.

Electric guitar and pedal steel licks are traded on the delightful ‘Sunny in Seattle’ again tinged with Shelton’s dry sense of humour. There’s as much chance of him falling out of love as the sun shining in Rain City, snow falling in New Orleans and New York becoming a one horse town.

It might have been advisable to take the foot off the gas on what turns into a power ballad on ‘Over’. The full-on production including strings, is big, but disappointingly rather clutters the arrangement.
The country rap-like novelty number ‘Hey’ rather irritates which is in complete contrast to the wonderful tender break-up ballad ‘Red River Blue’, on which Blake’s new bride Miranda Lambert adds vocals.

The deluxe version contains 2 bonus tracks. ‘Chill’ is a mid-tempo summer breeze that allows you to unwind down by the water. ‘Addicted’ is a mighty fine emotionally charged ballad with orchestration that has the necessary rise and fall to mirror the feelings of the female protagonist wrestling with an illicit romance.

The album ticks many boxes and will satisfy the thirst for Shelton’s fans and bring new ones to the fold aided by his own admission of being in the TV spotlight.


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