Blake Shelton’s 10th studio album ‘If I’m Honest’ is the first since his widely publicised divorce from Miranda Lambert and the start of his relationship with Gwen Stefani. The lead single ‘Came Here To Forget’ was a sign of what to expect from the project; an atmospheric recollection of two hurt lovers meeting in a bar, bonding through their difficult situations. It wasn’t too difficult to work out why Blake chose to record it.
You may be surprised to hear that Blake only co-wrote three songs on the album. The rest were written by some of Nashville’s most talented writers, including the likes of Ashley Gorley, Liz Rose and Zach Crowell. Particularly surprising when you hear songs like the aforementioned lead single and ‘Every Goodbye’, which sound rather autobiographical of Blake’s recent predicament. The latter is one of the album’s highlights, an up-beat, optimistic approach to life after a relationship with someone new. It’s very radio-friendly; don’t be surprised to see this one released as a single.
‘She’s Got A Way With Words’ is another stand-out. Classic Blake Shelton, and such a cleverly written song by Wyatt Earp, Andy Albert, Marc Beeson. “She put the S, O, B in sober, she put the hang in hangover, she put the ex in sex, she put the low in blow, she put a big F U in my future, yeah she’s got a way, she’s got a way with words”. This one is bound to trigger a reaction from the listeners with its rather controversial, straight-talking approach. It’s got that instantly recognizable Blake Shelton sound, not too dissimilar to the likes of ‘Mine Would Be You’ and ‘God Gave Me You’.
Blake’s duet with Gwen Stefani, ‘Go Ahead and Break My Heart’ proves that the two of them suit each other vocally as well as on a personal level. This up-tempo pop-country offering has immense mainstream potential and the addition of Gwen will hopefully spread the word about this album outside the genre. Be sure to check out the video of their performance at the iHeart Radio Theatre below.
‘Friends’ is by far the most fun, catchy song on the album. Blake does the voice for a character in the new Angry Birds Movie, and this song was recorded for the movie soundtrack. A jolly banjo-driven delight; try and listen to it without dancing…hard isn’t it! A welcome relief from the general theme of the album and one that’s sure to be a fan favourite.
It wouldn’t be a Blake album without a song or two in the ‘Boys Round Here’ category. The opener ‘Straight Outta Cold Beer’ is a typical bro-country anthem; dirt roads, pickup trucks, bonfires and beer. “Not Again” I hear you say! Well, it’s not an instant favourite but after a few listens it seems to stay in your head forever. Definitely one for the live show; the chorus is so anthemic. The anti-bro-country crowd will detest it and admittedly, Blake is certainly at his best doing the mid-tempos and ballads, but he always throws one or two of these in! The same could be said for ‘Doing It To Country Songs’ which features The Oak Ridge Boys.
‘Savior’s Shadow’ concludes the album, a hymn-like, heavily religious track written co-written with husband-and-wife songwriters Jon Randall and Jessi Alexander. It depicts Blake looking up in awe of God, and it’s a track which Blake says “I dreamed last summer. I woke up and wrote down everything I could remember.” Nothing more than an acoustic guitar, pedal steel and a gorgeous violin, it completely draws you in. It’s also a fantastic showcase for Blake’s vocal ability, proving why he is one of the heavyweights in country music.
‘If I’m Honest’ another solid release for Blake who is Mr Consistent. Once again, nothing strays too far from the familiar path, and there are plenty of songs on offer here for potential single releases. Nothing is ever too surprising with a Blake album, you know you’re going to get radio-friendly material with the charts in mind, but this album does expose a more vulnerable side, and Blake certainly hasn’t hidden anything here when it comes to recent events in his life.