Blake Shelton is celebrating a lot of things these days--2010 has been a phenomenal year for him to date, what with winning his first ACM and CMT awards (both for his duet with Trace Adkins, "Hillbilly Bone"), and his much-publicized engagement to longtime sweetheart and fellow country hitmaker Miranda Lambert. However, foremost on his mind this week is the release of his new record, All About Tonight.
This release marks the second in Shelton's planned series of "six-pak" releases, albums with shortened tracklistings which were designed to allow him to release more music more often to fans. And, in good marketing strategy, this latest "pak" has a different feel from its predecessor, Hillbilly Bone, which came out in March and contained the award-winning title track.
"Hillbilly Bone definitely lived up to its title," Shelton explains. "There were a couple of anthems on there for redneck people like myself. This album is more laid-back, more down-the-middle country. It's got attitude people expect from me, but it's got the softer side also."
That said, Shelton is of mixed opinion regarding his experiment with the "six-pak" strategy, which by necessity has had him working overtime in the studio in order to stick to release schedule. "There's definitely upsides and downsides," he says. "It's frustrating as much as it is exciting. Going in and recording all the time, doesn't make the wheels turn any faster at radio. We're just having to adjust."
While he enjoys the extra time recording, Shelton notes that his increased productivity has proved to be a bit overwhelming. "You can end up under a big pile of 'what the hell we going to do with all this music?'" he says. "You've got to have some breathing room."
That said, there will probably be yet another project released in late fall--"the plan was to come out with three projects," he explains. However, Shelton thinks it will be a greatest-hits package rather than a collection of new material.
Whatever the next move will be, All About Tonight stands as a solid release from the singer, equal to and possibly even better than Hillbilly Bone. A huge standout on the record are the musical contributions from fiancee Miranda Lambert, who cowrote one song, "Suffocating," with Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott; and joins Shelton for a rollicking duet titled "Draggin' The River" in which the pair plot to fake Lambert's death in order to elope (it's actually a lot funnier than it sounds, I promise). Shelton and Lambert sound like such naturals whenever they collaborate, it's hard to imagine the two ever arguing about music or songwriting.
But, oh yeah, they do! "God, yes," admits Shelton with a laugh. "We come from completely different musical backgrounds. She was influenced by Steve Earle, Allison Moorer. Me? Conway Twitty. Even though they're all country--it's two different highways. When we try to blend that stuff, it's not easy."
He pauses, then adds, "But sometimes it's way too easy."
Besides his musical endeavors with Lambert, one thing that's foremost on many country-music fans' minds is Shelton's most serious collaboration with the aforementioned lady--that is, their upcoming wedding, which they will be hosting in Texas on an undisclosed date next year. Both are keeping fairly mum about the details, although Shelton protests that he's got nothing to hide. "I don't know that much about it yet," he laughs. "I'm still waiting for my invitation."
"[Miranda's] been working hard on it. Different places, dresses, menus," he notes, adding that he's fine with letting his-bride-to-be take the lead in the planning process. "She's really into it. I want to be as much a part of it as she wants me to be. She's got some strong opinions and that's fine."
When asked if he will be taking on the traditional groom's task of planning the honeymoon, Shelton groans. "Oh God, I don't know. I hope we can just go home, but I don't think she'll let me get away with that."
Congrats on a phenomenal year to date, Blake! Be sure to check out his latest release and let me know what you think of it, folks.
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