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Watch Blake Shelton’s She Wouldn’t Be Gone video - his fifth number one hit. Blake’s prior number ones hits are “Austin,” “The Baby,” and “Some Beach.”
Blake Shelton may have chosen the amusing title Pure BS for his fourth album, but its the pure part of the name that most aptly describes the music.
Traditional-minded but produced with a contemporary edge, Pure BS perfectly showcases Shelton as a powerful and expressive vocalist while also showing off his impressive songwriting skills on three of the tracks.
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To get that pure sound, Shelton pushed himself harder than ever before as a singer and as a writer and stepped out of his comfort zone in the studio to work with some first rate producers who pushed him even more. The end result, Shelton believes, is his best album to date, and one that has already spawned the hit single Dont Make Me.
In addition to his longtime collaborator, Bobby Braddock, Shelton worked with producers Brent Rowan and Paul Worley on his new CD, an experience that proved to be fruitful. In the end, Braddock and Rowan each produced four of the albums tracks, and Worley helmed three. But the finished CD reveals that all three producers shared the same vision.
That vision sprang from his last album, Blake Sheltons Barn & Grill, which featured Sheltons hit remake of Conway Twittys Goodbye Time. When that song became a single, the artist says people frequently told him I didnt know you could sing like that. Those comments inspired him to showcase what I can do vocally a little more on Pure BS.
While he says the hard times, broken heart, drinking songs are still where hes vocally the most comfortable, Shelton and his producers also looked for songs that, he says, pushed me to sing better and to see how far my range could go.
Shelton had worked exclusively with Braddock on his first three CDs. Bobby and I were very successful together, he says. Weve sold two and a half million albums with our work together. Im very proud of that. At the same time, I felt like for the fourth album I didnt want to completely abandon the sound that Bobby and I had together, but I wanted to explore new stuff. I didnt want to keep making the same album over and over again.
Sheltons new producers pushed him to try new things and see whats still inside me that I havent tapped into yet. And sure enough, he says, I did find more of myself that I didnt know was there. I had to dig down deeper and be uncomfortable again with somebody that I didnt know that well in the studio and feel like I had something to prove to that person.
With Rowan and Worley, he says, I didnt really know what would happen when he and I went in the studio together, but man, I couldnt be more thrilled with the stuff we made together.
Thats not to say it was easy. Worley in particular was a tough task master. In the studio with Paul, I would sing something that I thought sounded great and hed hit that talkback button and say Man I know youve got better than that in there. It was frustrating, but you step up and you sing harder and you reach for a note that maybe you wouldnt have even tried, Shelton says. It turned out to be the right call.
For Shelton, 2006 was a time of personal and professional changes. He and his wife amicably divorced and Shelton moved back to his home state of Oklahoma, declaring Nashville a place where he could never get totally comfortable. Its just way too big for me. On the professional side, Shelton joined forces with veteran manager Narvel and Brandon Blackstock, who also handle the career of Reba McEntire.
His newfound sense of freedom even inspired a new look as Shelton shed his trademark long curls for a shorter hairstyle that more closely matches his growing maturity and stature as an artist.
After a difficult year, Shelton can relate to every song on Pure BS, saying theyre all pretty much were I am as a person right now. Its not that bad of a place. Ive been through some tough times but . . . I feel good right now. I want to sing about a lot of those things Ive gone through and a lot of those emotions. Thats whats going to help me come through a better person on the other side.
As an artist, Shelton has shown steady growth and momentum since his impressive 2001 debut, which earned him the title of Radio & Records magazines breakthrough country artist that year. His hits run the gamut from the sweet sentiments of Austin, and The Baby through Sheltons powerful take on Goodbye Time and on to the hilarious Some Beach and the wildly original prison break story song, Ol Red.
The collection of songs on Pure BS is equally diverse, ranging from She Cant Get That—a cheating song with a twist—to the funny The More I Drink, in which alcohol turns the songs character into the worlds greatest lover and a dancing machine. Among the albums other standout tracks are a remake of the edgy Chris Knight/Craig Wiseman song It Aint Easy Being Me, and the sing-along anthem The Last Country Song, which features guest vocals from two of Sheltons all-time heroes, John Anderson and George Jones.
Shelton and Braddock wrote The Last Country Song with Michael Kosser. The lyrics, while largely about farmland giving way to development, also reference Andersons classic song SwinginҔ and Jones signature song He Stopped Loving Her Today.
What I love about that song is the statement it makes not only about America, but about country music, about how what a lot of us have gotten comfortable with and used to and love about country music is going away, Shelton says of the track. Its changing, and whether its for better or for worse theres no stopping it.
Despite all his professional achievements, Shelton has a unique vision for what will ultimately define his success as an artist.
I will never stop looking for that next level of my career and how to get there, but not for the reasons that a lot of people want to get there, he says. Im not chasing a dollar and Im not trying to be the king of the mountain. I want to be that guy who, when some old guy is driving down a back road somewhere 20 years from now, he still has one of my old CDs that hes been listening to all that time.
I want to make those albums that [last] forever that people never throw away. When they break it they go buy another one because I sing songs that they really relate to and my music means something to them. Thats what Im chasing.
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