If you're like me (and a lot of other funlovin' folks out there), you start your day with a few snorts over Blake Shelton's Twitter account. The country star/unofficial comedian generally has the most uproarious tweets of any given day--all the more amusing because a great deal of his smart-aleck remarks have a sly bit of truth to them.
True, true, as usual. Blake's new record, Hillbilly Bone, is out today, and it's a lot more fun than most anything having to do with Al Gore (or any other politician, to be fair to Mr. Gore). It's also unique in that it contains only six tracks. This shortened tracklisting is a new album-release model which Blake and his record label developed in order to give him the opportunity to present new music more often to his fans.
The concept, dubbed a "six-pak," was presented to Blake back when he was working on his 2008 album Startin' Fires. He initially was skeptical. "I was like, why would I do that?" But, after thinking it over--and doing some comparison of sales of his singles vs. sales of his albums--he decided the idea made perfect sense.
Blake tells me that as an artist, he totally understands the concept of wanting fans to hear an entire body of work. However, he admits: "I do the same sh-t [fans] do. I don't buy the complete album." Hence, Hillbilly Bone--a perfect compromise allowing for a tight release in which every song is a blast.
Blake agrees, and describes his new record as "Uptempo--fun, not sappy." He took a few minutes to give me his thoughts, track-by-track, of all six tunes in the pack.
The in-your-face title track, which features pal Trace Adkins, is his girlfriend Miranda Lambert's favorite. "Believe it or not!" he laughs. "Miranda loves 'Hillbilly Bone. It's ultimate redneck anthem--no matter who you are where you live, there's something about you that's country." The song also received an Academy Of Country Music Award nomination in the Vocal Event Of The Year category just this morning. Miranda has good taste, no?
The next song--which, I have to say, has one of the finest titles ever--is the sassy "Kiss My Country Ass." Not surprisingly, it's Blake's own favorite on the album. As he explains, it spotlights his personality--"I really think over the past year, people have been identifying with my sense of humor. This one is a fan favorite!"
"You'll Always Be Beautiful" is one of the gentler-toned tunes on the record. "It's so honest, so much fun, it's sweet," Blake says of the ballad. "Girls absolutely love that song. But guys can get into it too, because it's just a fun love song."
"Can't Afford To Love You" kicks back into Blake's humorous vein, telling the tale of a redneck-ish dude who walks into a fancy joint "when he probably should have gone into Shoney's," snickers Blake. The guy falls for an uptown girl, who is way out of his league. "But he decides to give it a shot," says Blake. "He takes that second job for her--because that's what country guys do!"
The sweet song "Delilah" comes from an unexpected source--"The idea came to me when I was on the bus with Miranda, and she had to go into town to do something. So I was watching her dog, Delilah, for her," he notes. "Delilah watched Miranda walk away and drive off. Just kept watching. I said, 'Come over here Delilah, I'll pet you'...but she completely ignored me."
The little dog's singular loyalty sparked a chord in Blake's heart, and the song was born. (Note: You didn't really believe all those PETA-hating tweets on Blake's twitter page, did you now?! But just in case you were wondering if he's gone totally soft--when I asked what kind of dog Delilah is, Blake snorted, "Little white-lookin' piece of crap." Heh!)
Finally, the album ends with the rollicking party tune "Almost Alright," of which Blake notes, "I love the sarcasm of that song. I love the feel of it--that the guy is sad and broken hearted, but it's still fun. That's what I love about country music right there."
For those of you who are already looking forward to more new music from Blake--you won't have to wait long. As promised, the six-pak concept allows for multiple releases annually. So, he's hoping to put out another album in August, and one more sometime in the fall.
The only question is, will he find time to record all this music, and keep up on Twitter at the same time? "Honestly, I deleted [Twitter] off my phone," Blake tells me. "I was getting addicted." Hmmm. Not quite sure I believe that one, Blake.
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