- Associated Press - Monday, August 9, 2010

Blake Shelton, “All About Tonight” (Reprise)

Country singer Blake Shelton finally cracked the code to top-level success. Earlier this year, the Oklahoma native gambled by releasing a six-song album that capitalized on its title cut, “Hillbilly Bone,” which reached No. 1. The song led to Shelton gaining the kind of attention reserved for country’s top stars-and landed him an ACM Award, the first of his nine-year career.

Now Shelton returns with a second six-song album, “All About Tonight.” The collection takes steps to reveal Shelton can do more than sing rowdy party songs. A strong balladeer, he pours emotion and drama into “Suffocating,” written by Shelton’s fiance, Miranda Lambert, and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum. Lambert also contributes vocals to a wickedly playful duet, “Draggin’ the River,” in which a couple fantasize faking her death so the two can runaway together without drawing her father’s wrath.

Shelton calls these compact releases “six paks,” an appropriate (and creatively spelled) term for a singer who has found favor by becoming the life of the party. Fortunately, he shows he can do more than just kick up his heels, too.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” is a sweet, mid-tempo tune that allows Shelton to reveal more layers than his recent hits. In the sly song, he wonders what his new lover does when he’s not around; rather than paranoid visions of deceit, he imagines her sneaking chocolate, sliding down the hall in her socks and indulging herself in a bubble bath.

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