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Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton – 2001 (Warner)

Reviewed by Scott Homewood

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CDs by Blake Shelton

In today's varied country/Americana music landscape, it seems everyone has an extreme opinion as to what should be considered "cool" and what is considered "corporate country." Having an old time fiddle and a steel guitar or two may garner your album "cool" points while taking off the fiddles and steel guitars may make your album seem "corporate" or too poppy unless you are part of the brigade that is "cool" enough to ignore the old time approach (seen as traditonal and, guess what?, "corporate") and load up on electric guitars like a Southern rock band.

Consider Blake Shelton's album to be in the latter category. But still kinda corporate. Shelton's album loads up on the guitars of the Allman's, Lynyrd Skynyrd and that ilk, while his songs strain to sound more important and weighty than they really are. There seems to be a strain in Shelton's mostly blas+ effort to sound radical and on the edge when he really sounds like an amped up Garth Brooks without the writing or song-choosing skills or a too-polished Steve Earle, again without the writing skills.

While his voice sounds warm and radio-friendly, this album just smacks of being assembled with the intent on capturing the burgeoning alternative country market. It could be ignored if the music transcended the feeling, but it sadly fails on most of those counts.