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Blake Shelton

Red River Blue – 2011 (Warner)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Blake Shelton

With the right set of songs, Blake Shelton can sound really great. "Red River Blue" just might be that right set of songs because Shelton has never sounded better. There are moments on this set where Shelton goes country-soul, a la James Otto, most notably with Ready To Roll and Drink On It, and also places where that The Voice guy voices a few power ballads, such as on I'm Sorry.

A big part of Shelton's appeal with viewers on The Voice is the way Shelton seems to think and say those things the average person is contemplating, yet doesn't have the national forum to express. Shelton has one of these 'national voice' moments here with Good Ole Boys, where he asks, "Where did all the good ole boys go?" Sure, its lyric playfully plays on a few Southern stereotypes. However, these good ole boys aren't just Southern fellas alone. They're also true men that know how to cover their Fruit of the Looms with jeans and open a door for a lady when the opportunity arises. Such 'real men' are sadly in short supply.

Technically speaking, "Red River Blue" is not a beginning-to-end country album because so much of it is polished and pop-oriented. However, whenever Shelton lays on the country boy persona thick, which he particularly does during the silly Hey, he comes off like Trace Adkins separated-at-birth brother. At these moments, Blake Shelton is truly great.