By Meghan D. Shapiro
Sorry Blake, not this time. I’m just not feeling it.
Blake Shelton released his fifth album, Startin’ Fires, on Nov. 18 after re-releasing the 2007 platinum hit album Pure BS earlier this year. Startin’ Fires’ first single, “She Wouldn’t be Gone,” peaked at 18 on Billboard’s Top Country Singles this week, but the album didn’t even make Billboard’s Top 25 chart for country albums.
I’m not surprised.
What irks me a bit about this new release is I feel like I’ve heard it all before. While he’s recorded meaningful love ballads like “This is Gonna Take all Night,” “100 Miles” and “I’ll Just Hold On,” I don’t see anything new. We’ve all heard songs (especially country songs) about love ones lost — we’ve all been through heartbreak. “I Don’t Care,” a passionate tearjerker, is probably his best effort throughout the whole compilation. But he missed the mark with “Never Lovin’ You,” because it’s a Brad Paisley “I’m Still a Guy” knock-off. And that song, at the very least, was funny.
To be fair, Shelton’s album does include a handful of catchy tunes. “Green” is a hilarious number that targets environmentally friendly elitists who jump on the green bandwagon like it’s a fad. “People used to call me backwards, living out here with the tractors, letting’ this world leave me behind. Nowadays I’m a innovator, I’m a country boy prognosticator — a man ahead of my time … I was green before green was a thing.”
If Shelton recorded more songs like “Country Strong,” this album would have been a hit. It’s a catchy, fast-paced track for those with country in their blood. “He’s up in the mornin’ yawnin’ with those work boots on, workin’ like hell ’til the dinner bell brings him back home, blue collar in his blood, backwoods in his bones, no doubt about it that boy’s country strong.”
Adding bombshell girlfriend Miranda Lambert to “Bare Skin Rug” created a great duet for the final song on the collection, but her country twang out-sang Shelton so much that it left him, along with his album, almost unforgettable.