Blake Shelton's 'Based on a True Story' Album Review

His first release after joining 'The Voice'

"Based on a True Story" album art.

Photo from Amazon

Blake Shelton is the de facto spokesman of country music for a good portion of the United States. He's the Everyman's Everyman. The pop singer's country singer. The genre's most visible face. "Based On a True Story..." is his first album since establishing himself as a judge on the hit singing competition TV show "The Voice."


"Based On a True Story..." is Shelton's eighth studio album and was released in March 2013. It debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, a personal best for Shelton, and went platinum that September. It was the ninth best-selling album of 2013.

This album sounds like a much more cohesive effort than his last album "Red River Blue." Where "Red River Blue" felt deflated, washed out, and overly assembled, "Based On a True Story..." sounds edgy, bright and bold. For the most part, the album is relatively mid-tempo. "Boys 'Round Here," which leads off the album, exudes the right combination of good-ole-boy provincialism and '90s anachronisms à la turntable scratching, and the mellow groove and none-too-insistent guitar keep the gears oiled. Pistol Annies supply the plush backing chorus.

"Sure Be Cool If You Did" is a country pop track about keeping your hopes high as the night wears on. "Do You Remember" is a crisp march toward romantic desolation, with Shelton's verses laying down the calm before the emotional, stormy chorus.

Inquiring minds may want to know if Shelton has lost touch with his roots after spending so much time in SoCal studios and swiveling in a big red chair. His answer is "Small Town Big Time," a bicoastal party starter that calls out L.A.'s "red Maseratis and suntanned bodies." Think of it as Shelton's version of the Weezer track "Beverly Hills." He reassures us that he hasn't lost touch with his boondocks roots. Fame ain't changed him none.

Synthesized drum beats, perhaps the newest advent to the country soundscape, are used justifiably on "Country On the Radio." The mellow song makes a good case for not messing with success, roping in all the usual suspects: jars of moonshine and city versus country credos.

"My Eyes," a duet with Gwen Sebastian (a contestant on the second season of "The Voice") mimes the opening riff of Kenny Rogers' "Love Will Turn You Around." "Doin' What She Likes" tells the familiar story of telling a girl what she wants to hear, and "I Still Got a Finger" is a relatable, clock-puncher's daydream. "Lay Low" is the perfect cruising song, and "Ten Times Crazier" is ten times as tepid. "Grandaddy's Gun" is like an inverted version of the classic Western film "Winchester '73." The double-barreled beauty's been through many hands and left every single one of them better for it.

'I Found Someone' and the Album's Meaning

If you purchase the standard version of the album, that's where the music ends, but if you decided to supersize your Blake Shelton experience with the Deluxe Edition, you'll also get the heart-smasher "I Found Someone." This is the type of song where the meaning of the title changes from verse to verse. "Frame of Mine" is all roadhouse piano and weeping pedal steel. It's more or less a torch song about a lost love, which seems to be the prevailing theme of the album.

Final Thoughts

"Based On a True Story..." has a definite crossover sound, which has quite a bit to do with the fact that it's Shelton's first album since becoming a household name after joining the panel on "The Voice." The album may have been produced to appeal to the masses, but that doesn't mean it's a lesser work. If you aren't a lifelong country fan, "Based On a True Story..." is the one album that could make you a convert. If you're a fan of Shelton's, then this album absolutely needs to be incorporated into your collection.

Track List

  1. "Boys 'Round Here" (feat. Pistol Annies & Friends)
  2. "Sure Be Cool If You Did"
  3. "Do You Remember"
  4. "Small Town Big Time"
  5. "Country On the Radio"
  6. "My Eyes" (feat. Gwen Sebastian)
  7. "Doin' What She Likes"
  8. "I Still Got a Finger"
  9. "Mine Would Be You"
  10. "Lay Low"
  11. "Ten Times Crazier"
  12. "Granddaddy's Gun"
  13. "I Found Someone" (Deluxe Edition)
  14. "Frame of You" (Deluxe Edition)