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)

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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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Curtain Call for Nashville?

A few months ago American TV Network ABC announced the cancellation of a selection of shows, among the casualties? Popular musical drama Nashville.

If you’re a fan of popular American musical drama Nashville, you may remember a little while ago it was announced that the show would not be returning to screens after the finale of its fourth season. However, don’t put dirt on their grave just yet, as this didn’t go down well with ‘Nashies’ around the world who promptly began circulating an online petition in a bid to get the show re-instated.

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Thankfully, they got their wish as Lionsgate shopped the series to other networks and, after a nail-biting minute, Nashville was picked up by CMT in partnership with Hulu – breathes huge sigh of relief.

The show follows the trials and tribulations of a group of fictitious friends-turned-country-singers, all at different stages of their lives and careers, plus a whole heap of drama to fill your (cowgirl) boots. As a result of its musical theme the show has generated multiple CD releases, distributed by none other than country music frontrunner Big Machine Records, and even live performances – most recently with the cast crossing the pond for a UK tour.

Over the years, the series has produced some great music and continually highlighted the musical talents of its actors. Characters including Rayna James (played by 24’s Connie Briton), Deacon Claybourne (played by husky-voiced hunk Charles Esten), Gunnar Scott (played by Sam Palladio), honey-voiced sweetheart Scarlett O’Connor (played by Clare Bowen), and Juliette Barnes (played by Hayden Panettiere), among others, shine in their respective roles. It’s not surprising then, that some are even going on to release their own material.

Alongside the great voices are the chart-worthy songs they sing; songs with passion, honesty, emotional depth and the power to captivate an audience. Some tracks included in the show were written by highly acclaimed artists such as, Elvis Costello and the Civil Wars’ John Paul White. Charles Esten also made his song-writing debut with poignant, romantic track ‘I Know How To Love You Now’, which featured in the live opening episode of season three.

As with music, no two singers are exactly the same, and Nashville has done a great job of finding voices that complement each other, whilst being distinct enough to stand out in their own right. For example, Clare Bowen’s uniquely addictive vocals work brilliantly with Sam Palladio’s on songs like ‘If I Didn’t Know Better’ and ‘When The Right One Comes Along’ – resulting in something that sounds incredibly intimate – whereas solo song ‘Black Roses’ beautifully demonstrates that her understated vocals are just as mesmerising on their own.

Similarly, Hayden Panettiere shines as troubled character Juliet Barnes. Injecting a healthy dose of sassiness with pop-crossover tracks like ‘Tell That Devil’, and the defiantly ballsy ‘Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave’, all the while showcasing her powerhouse vocals. Connie Britton also stars as country music icon Rayna James, bringing effortless authenticity in tracks like ‘This Time’, and the stadium-worthy ‘Wrong Song’ (a duet with Panettiere.)

Throughout the years the show has also seen cameos from some big names in the industry including, Kelly Clarkson, Kesha, Areosmith’s Steven Tyler, and Christina Aguilera as Jade St John.

This musical backdrop has also seen a host of undoubtedly gripping storylines including: Rayna and Deacon’s tumultuous relationship, Deacon’s personal struggle with sobriety and alcoholism, Scarlett’s nervous breakdown, Sadie Stone’s ordeal with domestic abuse, and Juliet’s transition from troubled childhood to motherhood and her subsequent struggle with postpartum depression. The arc of Juliet’s character see’s viewers watch her grow-up from spoiled, self-obsessed child star, to wife and mother (similar to the growth of Avery’s character throughout the series’.)

Personally, I’ve been a fan of Nashville since the first season premiered back in 2012. Having been continuously captivated by both the storylines and the music, I’m glad that it isn’t the final curtain for the show just yet – even if they did have us worried for a minute.

Check out my review of ‘The Music of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 1 Vol. 1’, which I wrote in 2013 for a university project, below:

From the American TV music-drama Nashville, the soundtrack – released through major label Big Machine Records, and produced by T-Bone Burnett (Counting Crows, Elvis Costello) – is thankfully not just a compilation of covers of hits. It includes original songs performed by several members of the cast, and there is absolutely no question when it comes to their musical talent. Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) shines in fun pop crossover track ‘Telescope’, and shows a sensitive side in duet ‘Undermine’. Connie Britton (24) injects effortless authenticity in tracks like ‘Buried Under’, and stadium-worthy ‘Wrong Song’ has hit written all over it. Though the star of the show here is undoubtedly Clare Bowen, whose understated vocals create atmosphere and intimacy in spades, which can be heard in twisted dark ballad ‘If I Didn’t Know Better’, and cosy love song ‘When The Right One Comes Along’; smooth, elegant and quietly powerful. All the songs on this album are ridiculously addictive; a mixture of tangled, intimate songs and big arena-filling sounds. With award-worthy lyrics, impeccable talent and the ability to capture an audience with a vibe that some artists only dream of, this could be a legit country album and not just an OST.  

I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite tracks (aside from the ones included in this post) :

Fade Into You / Twist of Barbed Wire / When The Right One Comes Along / Love Like Mine /Change Your Mind / What if I Was WillingA Life That’s Good / Tell That Devil / Gasoline and Matches

 

Are you a fan of Nashville? I’d love to know your thoughts on the show. I’d recommend it to anyone, even if you’re not a fan of country music, it’s still a great watch.

If you’ve never seen it and fancy giving it a go, catch up now 4OD.

 

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