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Album Spotlight: Blake Shelton, ‘Bringing Back the Sunshine’

bringing back the sunshine
Warner Bros

Blake Shelton stays away from rowdy on his ‘Bringing Back the Sunshine’ album. Most of the 12 songs clip along at Blake-speed, which can be defined as a mid-tempo shuffle with lots of swagger. The rest are challenging ballads that test the superstar’s vocal limits.

‘Neon Light,’ ‘Gonna’ and ‘Buzzin’’ (especially ‘Buzzin’’) move at Blake-speed on this project. Here one finds the 38-year-old quasi-narrating each verse. Of the three, the kickoff single ‘Neon Light’ comes closest to ‘Boys ‘Round Here,’ the Blake-speed anthem from ‘Based on a True Story …’ Lyrically, ‘Buzzin’’ comes close with several cheeky lines that will force fans to turn to their radios.

Gonna probably take all night and I’ll be right here / Chillin’ like a villain on my redwood deck / You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” he sings during the chorus. “When you’re shooting that Fireball whisky / Get to getting all fireball frisky / You a hot little jockey / Nothin’ rocks me like you’re rockin’ me,” he adds later.

Shelton’s unique mix of country and R&B returns for this project — don’t fix what ain’t broke, right? But the best moments are his revealing ballads. ‘I Need My Girl’ is powerful, similar to ‘She Wouldn’t Be Gone’ from 2008. ‘Sangria’ is sexy and simple, and ‘A Girl’ is 100 percent adorable.

“How to act like you’re listening to her about her day / When she’s talking and she’s blocking the game / How to shut your mouth when it’s that time of the month / Knowing when she’s mad and when she’s really just drunk,” he sings during the saltier part of the song. “These are the things that you learn when your heart just wants to burn, burn.

He’s singled out ‘Lonely Tonight’ in interviews. Melodically, this ballad is traditional and nondescript, but both vocalists turn in superb efforts to make it a shining moment on ‘Bringing Back the Sunshine.’

Key Tracks: ‘Neon Light,’ ‘A Girl,’ ‘Good Country Song’

Ladies Man: Shelton seems to go out of his way to include female artists he believes in on his album. RaeLynn has been featured on songs from the last two, as has Ashley Monroe. He says he hopes she begins to get more recognition after fans hear ‘Lonely Tonight,’ hinting that the song could become a future single.

Did You Know?: ‘Good Country Song’ name-checks Earl Thomas Conley, Shelton’s country hero. That’s not coincidence — he says the songwriters (Jessi Alexander, Tommy James and Matt Jenkins) wrote it with him in mind and dropped ETC in to seal the deal.

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