Considering how much pressure most country artists are under to turn out hypercommercial, hook-filled tunes, Shelton is maintaining a high level of artistic integrity. This ingratiating 11-track album is a good example of how adept he is at serving country music aesthetes as well as its bean counters. "The Bartender" is a winning tale about a man behind the bar and the saloon denizens he can't help but observe: "Mrs. Chews on Her Lip tells someone she's at work on her cell phone/Mrs. Husband Just Died always breaks down and cries." "On a Good Day," about a man who lists all he qualities he has "on a good day," blends a contagious melody and smart lyrics. On "Some Beach," which tries to get some mileage out of the tenuous similarity between the phrases "some beach" and "son of a bitch." Shelton sings about a man who's dreaming of a tropical vacation even as he's cursing out various transgressors, real and imagined. Producer Bobby Braddock, who always has a good ear for a hit, backs Shelton up nicely, with such musicians as steel guitarist Paul Franklin and keyboard player Tim Lauer rounding out a CD of terrific country music.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "On a Good Day"