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Blake Shelton

Pure BS Deluxe Edition – 2008 (Warner)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton is one of those artists just bubbling under superstar status. In a quiet, dependable way, each of his releases (this is his fourth) has done very well. But he either scores a big number one hit ("Austin") or scatters a few small ones ("Ol Red") every time. For the present, a repackaging with three new tracks, Shelton offers another solid effort of roadhouse romps and lover's laments. While the album works overall, Shelton shows far more comfort on fast tracks. The opener "This Can't Be Good," a tickler of a tale involving a risky date with the sheriff's daughter, is instantly endearing (She's too dumb to run/I'm too drunk to swim). We get more of the same outlaw fun and regret with "The More I Drink" and "It Ain't Easy Bein' Me". One may find surprise, though, that the singer of "The Baby" can't show a little more feeling in belting out the slower numbers. When the band plays the loudest, he rises to the occasion. It's as if he needs their encouragement. But some of these ventures fall flat outright ("What I Wouldn't Give").

The new tracks include a mediocre midtempo tune penned by Shelton ("Chances"), a decent homage to rodeo life ("I Can't Walk Away") and a terrific rendition of a Michael Buble song ("Home"). The latter is good enough to make the deluxe worth the price of admission. Maybe the trick is to find a singer accused of over-emoting and cover them. Then if you come in more subdued, it will sound just right. The hits have already been coming off this record for Shelton, so it's a definite win. But for the next time out, he should either lean heavier on the bar songs, cover Barry Manilow or page Tim McGraw.