‘Texoma Shore’ Shows off More of Blake Shelton’s Down-Home Charm
The highest-selling country artist of 2016, Blake Shelton has a proven talent of winning people over with an undeniable charm he seems to have in swathes. Just ask the millions of fans he disarmed during his run on NBC’s “The Voice,” or ask Gwen Stefani. There’s something about Shelton, whether it’s his easygoing temperament or his rough around the edges nature, that makes him the kind of star fans wouldn’t mind cracking open a cold one with. It’s that very down-home attitude that fills Shelton’s latest, “Texoma Shore,” a nostalgic, 11-track ode to his Oklahoma roots full of all the pop flavor fans have come to expect from the country music titan.
Shelton’s last effort, 2016’s “If I’m Honest,” smacked of an introspective exploration, a record designed to address a post-breakup life. If that was Shelton’s move to get over things, then “Texoma Shore” marks a rebound for the country juggernaut, with all manner of upbeat flourishes and gushy songwriting giving Shelton’s 10th studio album a real sense of euphoria.
From the opening cut onward, it’s pretty clear Shelton is in a really great place right now. “I’ll Name the Dogs” details that crucial division of labor in life that a couple always goes through, settling down and carving out a life for themselves. “You find the spot and I’ll find the money/You be the pretty and I’ll be the funny/You plant the flowers and I’ll plant the kisses,” Shelton plots in a chorus that bubbles with a kind of excitement that only true love makes one feel. The whistling, electronic swing of “The House” keeps the momentum going, and already it’s abundantly clear that Shelton’s easygoing attitude isn’t like a light switch: he can’t turn this off. He manages to endear himself over and over again with cuts like “Why Me,” a constant question those fortunate enough to be blessed with an out-of-this-world significant other find themselves asking often. “You could have picked anyone/why me?” He asks in a steady chorus.
If there’s a flaw in “Texoma Shore,” it’s the same as its main strength. Shelton’s exuberance pushes him to try new things, and some just fall flat, like his attempt at rapping on “Money.” The track feels goofy from the start, from the familiar “cha-ching” of cold hard cash kicking things up to Shelton’s sing-raps about finding Burger King pickles between his couch cushions and having to use 1-ply toilet paper. There have certainly been worse songs, but there have also been many better ones. One such song is “Turnin’ Me On,” the only track Shelton co-wrote on “Texoma Shore.” It’s a full-on appreciation of Gwen Stefani, with Shelton lamenting that “She don’t know how to miss me … if I’m what she wants/she gets what she wants.”
Shelton continues effortlessly honing his likable image on “Texoma Shore.” Songs like “T-Shirt” and “The Wave” are testaments to that personality and a half that many accuse the star of harboring, with everything the crooner touching taking on its own larger-than-life status. Ultimately, the album represents another full-bodied hybrid of pop stylings and country twang, a combination that seems to only be growing in popularity. With celebrities like Shelton at the forefront, mainstream country music has a bright future ahead of which artists and fans alike can be proud.
“Texoma Shore” is available Nov. 3 on Apple Music.