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Blake Shelton

Texoma Shore – 2017 (Warner Nashville)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton's 11th studio album finds The Voice advisor in a contented, one might even say homey, frame of mind. The opening track and first single "I'll Name the Dogs" sets the tone. It's a rollicking ode to domesticity that manages to make household chore distribution ("You find the spot and I'll find the money / You be the pretty and I'll be the funny") both romantic and amusing. The beat switches to hip-hop on "Money," but the sentiment - and the humor - ("Writing rubber rent checks, livin' on Ramen / Chappin' our ass 'cause we can't afford Charmin") remains the same.

Make no mistake, domestic doesn't mean dull. Settling down doesn't mean settling for less. Monogamy can be very hot. Even though Blake and his lady friend like to hit the town occasionally ("Hangover Due"), they're much happier when they "get the party started / Where the party always ends" i.e. "At The House." When they're not burning up the sheets ("Turnin' Me On"), they're reminiscing about how it all began ("The Wave") or just counting their blessings ("Why Me").

Only a couple of songs are out of step with that cozy vibe, and they're something of a mixed bag. "I Lived It" is a look back at an earlier time that is obviously geared to engender nostalgia, but might instead make you grateful you don't have to swat flies in the house or ride in a truck with the windows up while grandaddy smokes Salem cigarettes. "Got the T-Shirt" is a break-up song comparing a relationship to a summer getaway ("If my heart was just a destination / She had herself one hell of a vacation") that holds together pretty well until the end when it turns out the titular top is not a metaphor for memories; he's actually p.o.ed that she absconded with his Rolling Stones t-shirt. These two tracks can either be skipped or used as a palate cleanser perhaps, but should certainly not be allowed to admit impediments to the marriage of true minds that is "Texoma Shore."