Based on the first two songs released from Blake Shelton’s new album Bringing Back The Sunshine, I was expecting a return to substance for the country superstar. “Neon Light” wasn’t the greatest country song in the world, but it sounded country for the most part. Then “Lonely Tonight” was released, a song I enjoy so much that it made my top ten country songs of September list. More on that song in a brief moment. Shelton has a talented voice and has proven in the past to make some pretty good music, but has also proven to make some of the worst “country” music ever (looking right at you “Boys ‘Round Here”). I was really hoping to see more of the former instead of the latter with this album and for the most part there was more of the former. But the latter shows its ugly head on this album and it isn’t pretty.
The Best Songs on the Album
Let’s start though with what Shelton got right on his new album. By far the best song on the album is his love ballad duet with the fantastic Ashley Monroe, “Lonely Tonight.” This is the second duet the duo have done together, with the first being on Monroe’s debut solo album last year. Both have great chemistry and their vocals are great, especially Monroe’s vocals despite her role in the song not being big. The song itself is about two people breaking up, but wanting to keep holding onto the relationship. The song tells a good story with the lyrics.
The album’s title track which kicks off the album is an upbeat and energetic love song. Shelton’s vocals are pretty good on this song. The electric guitar play is solid, giving the song a rock country feel to it. The lyrics on it are a little bit boring, but the song is decent and I wouldn’t mind hearing it on the radio. The other song I would classify as “good” on this album is “Anyone Else,” a song towards the end of the album. The song is about a man who was in a relationship with a woman who was never happy for him, but he was always happy for her. Basically he was in a bad relationship and he wonders why it didn’t work out. The song is actually pretty good and tells a story with some emotion behind the lyrics. These are the type of songs I would like to hear from Shelton.
The Worst Songs on the Album
(Warning: NSFW language ahead)
Okay where do I begin with the worst songs on this album? Let’s start with “Gonna” (innovative title, huh?). The song starts with the same R&B sound you hear on “Neon Light.” The best way to describe this song is it’s another version of Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again” and it even has an annoying chorus just like Bryan’s song. It’s a pop country song that the mainstream country music masses with eat right up. Surprisingly, Dallas Davidson did not write this song nor did he write a single song on this album. Strange because the worst songs on this album seem like they would be right up his alley of songwriting.
This is followed up with the song “A Girl.” Gee I wonder what this damn song is about? This is the same stuff you’ve been hearing on country radio for a while. It tries to be personal and creative, but it just isn’t. It also tries to be a romantic ballad dedicated to females, but maybe calling them “a girl” instead of a woman would be a nice start. I guess it’s a country song? I don’t know, but I do know this song is just really boring and it’s hard to pay attention to it. The same can be said for “Sangria.” I think Blake Shelton is just trying to be Barry White with this album because this is another “romantic” love ballad. Instead he just sounds like a modern-day version of “sexual miscreant” Conway Twitty (what Trigger at Saving Country Music calls him). The song is about Shelton with some girl in a motel trying to screw her. Another song with bland lyrics.The boring lyrics continue with “Just South of Heaven.” The song has a pop country beat with laundry list lyrics. There’s a banjo in the song, which is nice. I guess this song is about hanging out in the woods or somewhere in the country? We’ll go with that. The theme isn’t real clear. Again I’m bored by these clichéd lyrics.
If this isn’t enough I’m now going to discuss the worst song on the album and a bonafide candidate for Country Perspective’s Worst Country Song of 2014. That song is “Buzzin’.” This fucking song. Twerking is mentioned in the opening lyrics, so you know it’s going to be bad from the start. Does it matter what this song is about? It just fucking sucks! This is Shelton’s “Boys Round Here” for 2014. By the way Craig Wiseman who helped write that horrible song, also co-wrote this horrible song along with Kendell Marvel. To put the cherry on top of this big pile of shit is RaeLynn, who I consider the worst singer in mainstream country music. What do we have to do to make her stop singing? I’m tired of Blake Shelton trying to make RaeLynn happen. Luckily her role in this song is quite minimal and makes me wonder why she was even credited as taking part in the song.
The Rest of the Album
For those who didn’t see my review of “Neon Light” here’s the gist of that review: “This song is about a man getting over a hard breakup. He’s dealing with it by drinking and finding another woman to heal his broken heart. It’s a nice return to a theme with substance for Shelton. The song has a mixture of emotions in it, from sad to angry to vengeful to hopeful. When you’re at a bar drinking and getting over your heart being broken, these are normal feelings. It just comes up short in being a great song, instead of just decent. Some poor lyric choices and overproduced instrumentation does in another mainstream country song.”
“I Need My Girl” name drops alcohol and cigarette brands in the opening lyrics. Instead of the man wanting his vices he wants his “girl.” Shelton’s vocals are pretty good, but it’s pretty overproduced in terms of instrumentation. This song would have been much better if it was stripped down and only included an acoustic guitar because it was actually decently written. I guess “Good Country Song” is supposed to be Shelton’s peace-offering to appease traditional country fans. This song basically tells us what real country music fans already know: what good country music is supposed to be. Too bad Shelton doesn’t take his own advice with his music because he actually knows what good country sounds like. The song is decent and you’ll enjoy it if you liked the similar song from Brad Paisley called “This Is Country Music,” sans the sappy lyrics of Paisley’s song. Shelton’s name dropping of country greats like George Strait and Keith Whitley is his desperate attempt to win traditional country fans’ hearts, but this reviewer isn’t impressed. The song does sound traditional at least.
The album concludes with “Just Gettin’ Started,” a feel good party song with a modern country sound. It’s your typical generic party song with the usual lyrics you hear in these type of songs nowadays. The song is catchy and easy to remember, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was released as a single to radio. It’s an average song at best.
I honestly expected more from Shelton on Bringing Back The Sunshine, but instead he just brings back his usual sound you heard on his last album. There’s one great song, a few decent ones, a few average songs and a handful of bad songs. There were two things I learned from this album. First don’t expect much from Shelton nowadays because he will probably disappoint you. Second and most importantly this album reinforced my thoughts that the world needs more Ashley Monroe music and less Blake Shelton music. Shelton can cry the blues all he wants about critics like me, but until he starts producing better music I’m not going to applaud his music. I’ve proven through my reviews that if you make good music regardless of my past thoughts on the artist, whether you’re Florida Georgia Line or Tyler Farr, I’ll give credit where it’s due. Unfortunately there’s not much credit due on this album outside of one song. Go buy “Lonely Tonight,” but I recommend staying away from the rest of the album.