Blake Shelton is one of the most successful male artists of modern country music. He released his self-titled debut album in 2001 and has gone on to achieve a string of number 1 hits that includes 15 back-to-back chart toppers on the US Country Airplay charts. As well as his music Shelton is also well-known for long-running role on The Voice US and more recently he’s hit the headlines following his divorce from fellow country star Miranda Lambert. Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits which was released late last year in the US, is making its way to the UK this week.
Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits is Shelton’s second greatest hits collection following the release of Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton in 2010. This new release updates Loaded with singles taken from Shelton’s number 1 albums Red River Blue (2011), Based on a True Story… (2013) and Bringing Back the Sunshine (2014). The collection opens with Sangria, one of Shelton’s new singles, a dreamy alcohol-infused love song that borders on the saucy and packs plenty of suggestion.
This new collection spans Shelton’s 15-year career with his first single Austin appearing near the end of the track listing. That song may be a fan favourite but it’s fair to say that Shelton has come a long way since that release. The gorgeous Lonely Tonight featuring Ashley Monroe, taken from 2014’s Bringing Back the Sunshine, is one of the best tracks featured here with Shelton’s deep vocal combining with Monroe’s gorgeous harmonies. Other highlights include the midtempo swagger of Drink On It, the traditional country of uptempo gem All About Tonight, and the Southern drawl of Boys ‘Round Here featuring Pistol Annies.
For my money, Shelton excels on the slower numbers where his voice is able to breathe more and his soulful tone is used to its best effect. My Eyes featuring Gwen Sebastian is one such example included here. Mine Would Be You, a story of love and longing, sees Shelton soar on the powerful chorus and the true power of his voice is clear throughout the song. One of my favourite songs included here is The Baby from 2003 album The Dreamer. The track embraces a more traditional country sound but retains that soulful edge I always love to hear from Shelton.
Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits is a reminder of just how consistent an artist Shelton is. He knows how to get the best out of his voice and he’s not really made a misstep when it comes to his single choices. He’s much more suited to the ballads and mid-tempo numbers than the uptempo cuts but he has the kind of voice that could sing the phonebook and you’d likely want to listen. Shelton hasn’t really explored the UK yet in terms of his live shows, and I’m hoping with the increasing popularity of C2C: Country to Country he might make it over to headline in the coming years.
Watch the music video for Sangria below:
Track listing: 1. Sangria 2. Lonely Tonight (feat. Ashley Monroe) 3. Neon Light 4. My Eyes (feat. Gwen Sebastian) 5. Doin’ What She Likes 6. Mine Would Be You 7. Boys ‘Round Here (feat. Pistol Annies & Friends) 8. Sure Be Cool If You Did 9. Over 10. Drink On It 11. God Gave Me You 12. Honey Bee 13. Who Are You When I’m Not Looking 14. All About Tonight 15. Hillbilly Bone (feat. Trace Adkins) 16. She Wouldn’t Be Gone 17. Home 18. Some Beach 19. The Baby 20. Austin 21. Gonna Record Company: Rhino Release Date: 5th February 2016