Blake Shelton Biography
"Home" took Shelton into new musical territory, stretching him vocally and stylistically, helping him expand his audience to include those who might have missed the more traditional approach he'd taken to that point. Startin' Fires, his fifth album, completes that journey, establishing him in the process as one of country music's most talented and versatile song stylists.
"This is something I've been wanting to do," he says, "exploring richer melodies and challenging myself as a singer."
Perhaps nowhere is his success more evident than in the project's first single.
"'She Wouldn't Be Gone' is definitely not the typical cut you'd hear on one of my albums," he says. "It's got a lot of minor chords and a unique melody for country music. Vocally, it's one of the tougher songs I'll ever sing and I love that. You have to have the right song and the right timing to do that, and 'Home' kind of opened the door for me."
Long-time fans will find that Shelton honors his roots as well. Long known for the way he wraps his rich baritone around both emotion-laden ballads like "Austin" and "The Baby" and light-hearted party anthems like "Some Beach" and "The More I Drink," he tackles songs about country life and attitudes with more joyful assurance than ever, bringing his personality to bear on the record as never before.
"I think this album is probably more autobiographical than anything I've ever done," he says. "While Pure BS was a kind of reflection of what I was going through at the time, this album is a reflection of who I am and the things I love and always have--driving back roads, drinking beer, being outdoors. Hell, I finally found a song that has deer in it and that tickled me. People know these things about me, but I've never really had that in my music, and I'm finally dumping myself onto my album. It's about who I am personally, and I hope other people can relate to it.
That autobiographical tone kicks off the album in the rollicking Craig Wiseman/George Teren barnburner "Green."
"That's what I do," he says of the song's rural images. "I sit with my guitar, plant corn and watch the deer and hawks. When I left the house this morning, there was camouflage hanging on the clothesline--as redneck as it gets. And it's funny, the lifestyle I've lived for years and years has become the new green movement. It's my favorite song on the album because I can sing that with a big smile on my face, confident that people are getting a hundred percent who I am as a person."
The album has plenty of all the elements that make Shelton the multidimensional artist he is today--soaring melodies, passionate lyrics, a bit of romance, and songs that celebrate the country life.
"I think this album takes things a step above where they have been," he says. "It shows me as the artist I've always wanted to be, which is somebody with a fresh sound that when you hear it, you think, 'That's got Blake Shelton's stamp on it.'"
To that end, songs like "She Wouldn't Be Gone" and "I'll Just Hold On" are twin showcases for the challenging vocal approach Blake is taking, while "100 Miles" has its own riches both vocally and emotionally. Blake is at his romantic best in "Here I Am," which he co-wrote with Dean Dillon, and "This Is Gonna Take All Night." The classic sound that has nailed down his country bona fides is evident in "Never Lovin' You," and there is his trademark down-home wit and the celebration of the country life in songs like "Home Sweet Home" and "Country Strong."
"Good At Starting Fires" will be widely seen as an ode to girlfriend Miranda Lambert, but it is on the album's closer, "Bare Skin Rug," that the musical riches inherent in that relationship--and the irreverence of which they are capable--get their first full workout following Miranda's splendid harmonies on "Home."
"Everyone expected us to come out with a big power ballad and we did just the opposite," he says. "Obviously, we want to write and record together--we'd be crazy not to. But we certainly wanted to approach it in a way that isn't cheesy. I can get away with things--people expect about anything from me--but Miranda protects her image fiercely. She's the tough girl in country music. We ended up writing a song about a couple of hillbillies who meet up in the mountains. They're young, they're virgins, and, damn it, they're tired of waiting. That's what it is. And we decided, 'Let's just do this how we wrote it.'”
The result, recorded live in front of a friendly campfire, is a modern redneck classic.
Taken as a whole, Startin' Fires is a richly nuanced look at one of this generation's most engaging singers and certainly one of its most interesting characters. Last year's star turn on the NBC miniseries Clash of the Choirs and Blake's appearance as a judge on Nashville Star have helped raise his profile across the board, introducing his irreverently skewed personality to millions of new fans.
It's a long way from Ada, Oklahoma, where he dreamed early on of a career in music. In fact, he once got a bit of inspiration from the man who produced Startin' Fires."
"I remember seeing a story on an Oklahoma City TV station about Scott Hendricks,” he says. “They said he was an Oklahoma guy who had moved to Nashville and made good, making these huge albums on big artists. I used to think, 'It would be so cool to meet him some day. Maybe he'd give me a shot.' Then, not long ago, he fell in my lap when he became A&R chief at Warner Bros. We decided we wanted to make this record together, and I'm really glad we did."
Blake cut his teeth on the Oklahoma City club circuit while still in high school. He was part of the entertainment for an event in Ada honoring Mae Axton, writer of the Elvis classic "Heartbreak Hotel." She saw him perform and told Blake she thought he could get a record deal if he moved to Nashville and that she was willing to help. That convinced him to move just two weeks after graduation. He worked with Hoyt Axton, Bobby Braddock and Earl Thomas Conley, among others, en route to his record deal, and his debut single, "Austin," shot him straight to the top of the charts. It also became his first 1 video, a group that would ultimately include "Heavy Liftin'," "Goodbye Time," “Home,” "Nobody But Me," “Some Beach,” “Don’t Make Me,” “The More I Drink” and the song that still gets as passionate a reaction as any.
"'Ol' Red' was not a huge hit at radio," he says, "but it's my signature song. To this day, that's the one people hold up signs for in concert."
Thanks to those songs, Blake's stature as a singer has grown steadily through the years, and his presence everywhere from network television to Youtube has raised his profile even more. Now, with the release of Startin’ Fires, Blake steps into the forefront as both one of the country’s premiere vocalists and one of its true personalities. It’s a position he declares himself grateful to be in.
“I think,” he says with his trademark smile, “that I’ve got the best of both worlds.”
Blake Shelton Bio from Discogs
American country singer and songwriter, born June 18, 1976 in Ada, Oklahoma, USA. He is married to Miranda Lambert.