Blake Shelton's Barn & Grill

Blake Shelton

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Blake Shelton's Barn & Grill Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Although he's delivered two promising albums, country singer Blake Shelton has had a bit of problem finding his own voice. On his first record, he was a hardcore country singer and on his second, 2003's The Dreamer, he tempered his country with anthemic heartland rock and contemporary Nashville songcraft. His third album, 2004's Blake Shelton's Barn & Grill, finds a happy medium between the two extremes. While he can still delve a little too deeply into country corn -- especially on the ballads -- he finds a happy balance between Nashville craft and pure country, throwing a bit of everyman charm and a little of Kenny Chesney's Jimmy Buffett fixation into the mix as well. All of this makes Shelton a bit of an all-purpose contemporary country singer -- he can do it all from the honky tonk ("Cotton Pickin' Time") to the beach ("Some Beach") and everywhere in between -- but since most of Barn & Grill has its heart in hardcore country, it winds up as his best, most assured album to date.

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