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Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton's Barn & Grill – 2004 (Warner)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton's third album is a tale of two halves. On the first half, Shelton manages to avoid any semblance of musical self-identity. The hit "Some Beach" not only name checks Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville," but also sounds like something Buffett or compadr+ Kenny Chesney would sing. Bobby Braddock's "Good Old Boy, Bad Old Boyfriend" recalls Waylon. Shelton is competent in his delivery, but doesn't forge his own sound.

But about half-way through, he aims higher and succeeds most of the time starting with "Cotton Pickin' Time," fast paced with a bass and fiddle keeping it moving and real strong, but never overdoing vocals. He turns in a particularly strong outing on Jim Lauderdale/Leslie Satcher's "What's On My Mind." And then he goes for songs with drinking themes to end the album with "On a Good Day," "The Bartender" and Mary Gauthier/Crit Harmon's "I Drink." Shelton doesn't rush the music, but fortunately lets it come to him. If he did that for the first half of the album, he'd have a great album, but at least he shows growth in the right direction.