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Blake Shelton

Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton – 2010 (Warner)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Blake Shelton

For those who cannot get enough of Blake Shelton this year, wait no more as this is his third release. Shelton was the guinea pig of an experiment to release a six-song EP several times during the year to see if that would result in greater sales in a tough market. Fortunately for Shelton, who has enjoyed career ups and downs, the effort worked with "Hillbilly Bone and "All About Tonight" earlier this year. The 15 song-CD is Shelton's first greatest hits effort after 10 years of recordings.

For career fans, there is no reason to buy this because there are no new songs. However, at least, Shelton gives his take on each song, explaining them in liner notes. For example, his chart topping Austin from 2001 "was one of those songs that nobody would give a chance because it didn't come from well-know writers...Luckily for me, I wasn't a well-known artist at the time." Smart move. In fact, Shelton wrote none of the songs here.

Not every song was a big hit - Ol' Red from 2002 only reached 14 on the charts, but Shelton labels it his "signature song" and in demand from his fans. The More I Drink was 19, but each helped Shelton get to where he is today.

The collection is more noteworthy for his older songs than the recent EPs, which had a few quality songs, but overall were not his best work artistically, even if they propelled his career to new heights. Songs like the anti-New York, but catchy and big sounding Hillbilly Bone and Kiss My Country Ass, the songs are more in your face than the subtle older material (Goodbye Time, She Wouldn't Be Gone). "Loaded" demonstrates that like many contemporary artists, he has veered away from a more traditional country sound.

In this day and age where artists seem to release greatest hits packages every four years, Shelton took his time. For those who want to reach back into Shelton's career, this is a good start.