Blake Shelton – Based on a True Story Album Review (Music Is Love Throwback)

Hola readers,

I hope you’re all doing well. As we’re right in the throes of summer; indulging in the warmer, longer days and ice-creams (well I am anyway!) I thought I’d share this #throwback of a review with you. This artist has been a big chunk of my summer soundtrack since I discovered him a few years ago, and his music just makes me think of sunny days and holidays.

I first discovered award-winning country singer/songwriter Blake Shelton’s music back in 2012 thanks to the US version of The Voice. I watched the show for two seasons, the first of which featured Juliet Simms (ex Automatic Loveletter) as a contestant – who went on to be one of the final two – and the second saw ex-Hey Monday front woman Cassadee Pope win the hearts of the nation and be crowned winner, under Shelton’s tutorage.

Being that Shelton was the only artist on the judging panel that I hadn’t heard of – the line up at the time being completed by Maroon 5 vocalist Adam Levine, R’n’B singer/songwriter Cee Lo Green and pop powerhouse Christina Aguilera – I was instantly curious to check out his music. And I wasn’t disappointed with what I found.

From the summer sunshine vibe of ‘Honey Bee’, and the somber, sultry feel of ‘Drink On It’, to injecting his alluring country drawl into Dave Barnes’ ‘God Gave Me You’, it’s clear that Shelton’s distinctive vocals are strong, bold and somewhat seductive. It’s no surprise that his work is revered within the country music industry – I instantly fell in love.

Another thing that immediately struck me about Shelton, is his ability to connect with the music and tell a story in an amazingly moving way. You can see this in multiple tracks of his including, romantic love stories ‘Over’ and ‘Austin’, as well as ‘Over You’; a track Shelton co-wrote with his ex-wife Miranda Lambert about the death of his brother – which she lends her vocals to. The song was also covered by ex-Hey Monday frontwoman Cassadee Pope during her time on NBC’s The Voice, which I’ve featured in a previous blog post.

I was going to include them in a ‘Tracks I’m Loving’ at the time, but the more songs I discovered I thought it could come across a bit artist-heavy. So, I decided to save them for a ‘One to Watch’, However, I didn’t think that was quite fitting as Shelton is an established artist in his own right as opposed to up-and-coming.

With his album ‘Based On A True Story’ on the horizon at the time, I jumped straight on ITunes and downloaded it. I then went on to review the album for a university project. At the time I didn’t see the point in duplicating posts across both sites, especially since I was trying to promote them both separately. However, I’ve since had to make the decision to close my other site (you can read about the reason for that here) so I thought uploading it here was way overdue.

 

 

Blake Shelton: Based On A True Story (Album Review)

bs-album-cover

American country artist Blake Shelton released his new album ‘Based on a True Story’ in March this year. Lead single ‘Sure Be Cool If You Did’ reached number one on the country airplay chart after being premiered on New Year’s Day, and was released on ITunes in January.

His eighth studio album is an authentic country album, complete with that trademark drawl that sounds like drizzling honey; smooth and effortless. With the playful chant ‘red red red red red red redneck’, album opener ‘Boys Round Here’ has a beat that you can’t help but bob your head to, and tracks like ‘Small Town Big Time’ are a full on ride of infectious fun; vibrant, jaunty and carefree, though the effects on Shelton’s vocals are unnecessary.

Throughout there are also moments of sentimentality, with slower romantic tracks like ‘Doin’ What She Likes’, ‘Mine Would Be You’, and the nostalgic trip down memory lane, ‘Granddaddy’s Gun’.

Shelton’s bold twang sounds like emotion oozing out of every pore and the intimacy and warmth that comes off of these songs is almost palpable. It’s a great mix of lively, dynamic songs and heartfelt stories, and is an excellent country album. If you’re not someone who’s usually a fan of country music, give it a try, you may surprise yourself.

 

As always, thanks for reading. Do you like Blake Shelton or are you Country music fan in general? Feel free to let me know in a comment. If you’d like to keep up to date with my upcoming posts come and join me on:

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Journaling In January: My Top 6 Favourite Covers

Good evening readers,

I wrote a Journaling In January post at the start of the month about cover versions of songs and my thoughts on them in general (if you haven’t seen that post click here.) I’m a total sucker for a really good cover; I love it when an artist can breathe new life into a song and transform it, whether that be by modifying the arrangement, switching up the vocal style, or completely changing the genre of the song.

It is a hard job to take a track people already know and turn it on its head, to attempt to re-write people’s perceptions of it and make it good. It’s easy to make a bad cover, it’s harder to make one that’s so good it rivals the original.

When I started compiling this list I slightly took for granted how difficult it was going to be, given that there are a lot of covers out there that I like. For that reason I decided not to include covers from TV talent shows – I.E The Voice and The X Factor – as well as the fact that if I did, this list would just go on forever. Instead, I have simply opted for the ones that have stuck in my mind, because they must have made a lasting impression for a reason right?

 

#6 Harder to Breathe  – Anavae and Tides (originally by Maroon 5)

While not a million miles away from the original version, the arrangement of this cover makes the track sound fuller and gives it more dimension. The guitar has also been amped up which gives more of a straight rock feel. This version turns the track into a duet consisting of both male and female vocals, the strength of the two voices complimenting each other brilliantly and working with the instrumental to add light and shade throughout.

 

#5 The Liar and the Lighter – Gabrielle Aplin
(originally by You Me At Six)

This takes the guitar-lead, raw-sounding original and completely transforms it into an understated yet powerful, almost haunting, track. The addition of the piano and high female vocals add a certain poignancy, and the arrangement works to give a whole new emotionality to the lyrics.

 

#4 Wrecking Ball – James Arthur (originally by Miley Cyrus)

This stripped back piano-led version of Cyrus’s hit Wrecking Ball, sees the X Factor winner put his soulful stamp on the UK number 1 single… and what a powerful stamp it is. If you’re not a fan of Miley Cyrus, or the song, I recommend listening to this cover because it may just change your mind.

 

#3 Empty Space – Rogue Re Vera (originally by The Story So Far)

If you follow me on any social media, or if you’re a regular visitor to my blog, then you may know that I’ve been really into this band lately. I actually included this in a previous Tracks I’m Loving post so rather than repeat myself – because what I have to say would be much the same – simply click HERE if you’d like to know why this cover made it into my Top 6.

 

#2 Give Me Love – Demi Lovato (originally by Ed Sheeran)

Simply put, this is a beautiful cover of a great song. The whole thing has a compelling sense of emotional honesty to it. The delicate sounding verses add a sense of vulnerability, while the middle-eight adds a whole new dynamic, beautifully showing off the power-house vocals that Lovato possesses.

 

#1 Uptown Funk – Against the Current ft. Set It Off (originally by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)

This is my most recent discovery; orchestral pop-rockers Set It Off and fellow pop-rock three piece Against the Current, teamed up for this cover of Uptown Funk – and it’s pretty great. I was dubious at first, I didn’t think I’d ever hear a cover of this song that even came close to the original, but I love the rock edge that these two bands have given it. Chrissy Costanza’s strong and powerful vocals add a whole new vibe to the track, and Set It Off’s Cody Carson is as sassy as ever, his smooth, unique vocals harboring a slight R’n’B twinge. The two complement each other brilliantly and I can’t get enough of it at the moment.

 

Ok so, I’m kind of breaking my own rule here but I couldn’t end this post without mentioning this song somewhere. If you’re a fan of The Voice USA then you may know that ex-Hey Monday frontwoman Cassadee Pope captured the nation’s heart when she won the competition back in 2012. Pope delivered an unrivalled vocal performance on the show each week and sang some amazing covers, but there was one that has always stood out to me more so than most.

Pope’s cover of Country singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert’s emotional ballad Over You completely turned the tides. Praised by all four celebrity coaches for her ability to connect with the lyrics and convey the poignancy of the song, as well as her astounding range, the cover also went on to top the ITunes all-genre chart – and it’s easy to hear why.

This cover gives me chills every time I hear it and I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed. I think that if a track has the ability to have such a strong effect no matter how many times you’ve heard it, it’s definitely a mark of something great.

 

Thank you for reading my Top 6 Covers, and I hope that it maybe inspired you to give some of the songs a try. What do you think of the covers? Are there any covers that you think  I should know about? Do you have a favourite cover that has always stuck in your mind? Let me know in a comment, I’d love to hear what you think.