Album Spotlight: Blake Shelton, ‘Based on a True Story …’ – ToC Critic’s Pick
Women who already think Blake Shelton singing is the sexiest thing since Johnny Castle pulled Baby from the corner may want to take the rest of the week off. The best moments on 'Based on a True Story ...' sizzle, and not in that ironic "bow-chicka-wow-wow" sort of way that's occasionally implied with this singer's sense of humor. Songs like 'Mine Would Be You' are safe to put on any red wine and candles soundtrack. Guys, you can thank Shelton via his Twitter account, if you'd like.
'Based on a True Story ...' isn't an album that impresses with a single listen. A few songs -- like the totally original Pistol Annies collaboration, 'Boys 'Round Here,' and the closer 'Granddaddy's Gun' -- will leave fans buzzing immediately. But for the most part, the risks Shelton takes are more subtle. It's the R&B vibe to 'Doin' What She Likes.' It's the familiar, but pleasing, feel-good imagery on 'Country on the Radio.' It's the thin production on 'My Eyes,' a song Gwen Sebastian provides harmonies for.
"Come a little closer / Come a little closer / Come a little closer / Girl the way you look tonight / My eyes / Are the only thing I don't wanna take off of you," Shelton sings on 'My Eyes.'
With the exception of 'Boys 'Round Here' (Dallas Davidson's "Red, red, red, red ... redneck" is sure to be a hook that catches on), the best moments on 'Based on a True Story ...' come after the halfway point. Songs like 'Do You Remember' and 'Small Town Big Time' are nondescript and generic (that's the danger of relying on subtle), but the remainder rely on strong songwriting and the singer's vocals. While the range of subject matter is limited, Shelton provides a dynamic mix of vocal styles and deliveries.
'Mine Would Be You' is the signature song. Deric Ruttan, Connie Harrington and Jessi Alexander co-wrote a potential Song of the Year nominee, and Shelton delivers it with modesty.
"What's your all-time high, your good as it gets / Your hands down best-ever makeup sex / What's your guilty pleasure, your old go-to / Well if you asked me, mine would be you," he sings to begin the song. The chorus is as emotional as any of his hit songs, and the last verse is absolutely devastating. 'Based on a True Story ...' is titled as such because each song is delivered from a memory in the singer's life. The emotion is easy to overlook on a single pass, but second or third listens find a collection of songs that really stick to the soul.