Throw on your jeans, shine up your boots, and grab yourself a cold one. as we count down our picks for the top 10 country songs of all time.
Bobby McIntyre is pro Singer/Songwriter,producer and Social media marketing and website/Seo |Guru, he is also just a family man who loves to sing and write songs. His vocal range is something to take notice of. He is able to sing Randy Travis and songs as high as greats like Steve Perry and Lou Gramm and Miljenko Matijevic. His album really does not even display his complete vocal range. Bobby can also pull off multiple styles of music from pure country, R&B,pop,hiphop to all-out power ballad rock. He is also somewhat of a social media wiz kid and helps manage select artists with their music careers, as it is a passion of his to help other great talents.
Bobby McIntyre is well on his way to a successful music career! He is starting to get some International attention with his music. Bobby has been approached by many Labels, Managers and Publishing Companies that want to work with him. It is just a matter now of finding the right team. One of Bobby’s strong points is his ability to market himself to the massive online world. He creates great online friendships with other great people and artists because he is very real and does not ignore his fans. In just over a 2 years he has built a very impressive fan base that grows every day from his strong skills in marketing. His music is starting to get some airplay worldwide also and is followed by over 150 thousand fans online now. The Bobby McIntyre Country page for Reverbnation has been ranked as high as #1 Globally on the Reverb Nation Country Charts. He also reached #1 All Genres of music globally under the singer/songwriter genre out of 4 million artists. He has sang for Rascal Flatts, Clay Walker, Tracy Lawrence, Jo Dee Messina, Chely Wright and Daryle Singletary, in front of thousands of people singing the national Athem and has been a guest on many radio shows. Bobby has written songs with some of the best song writers in the world. Bobby McIntyre’s career is now just truly starting to take off. His Debut Album, “The One” is now available to purchase on iTunes. Look for great things to come from this rising star Bobby McIntyre. To book or hire Please contact Bobby at
Brad Paisley is a critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, guitarist and entertainer whose talents have earned him numerous awards, including three GRAMMYs, two American Music Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards and 14 Country Music Association Awards (including Entertainer of the Year), among many others.
He has been a proud member of the Grand Ole Opry since 2001. Paisley has written or co-written 20 of his 23 #1 singles with the first being his 1999 hit “He Didn’t Have To Be” and his most recent, “Perfect Storm,” from his chart topping 2014 album Moonshine in the Trunk.
Paisley’s current single is “Crushin’ It” from the same album and Paisley will kicked off his Crushin’ It World Tour the middle of May by playing to over 50,000 fans. Paisley has recently partnered with Boot Barn® and developed an exclusive line of jeans, hats, T-shirts, jewelry, belts and woven shirts called Moonshine Spirit by Brad Paisley.
On a personal note, this guy is one of my all time favorite artists and entertainers, who deserves everything he has been given and much more.
I am looking forward to his next be country ballad for sure, it would also be so cool if he would let out that amazing vocal range he has more often. He has one of the best pure male country voices in the world, but would sure love to here him rock out one of these days with his vocal chops, I know he could if he wanted to.
Music is at its most powerful when it tells a story. Few things are more potent than a song that washes over the listener, each cinematic line surging with emotion and taking the audience on an unexpected journey. In the past decade, Carrie Underwood has emerged as one of the most compelling storytellers of her generation. Beyond the range and timbre of her impressive pipes, Underwood knows how to weave and deliver a delicious tale. Aptly titled Storyteller, Underwood’s fifth studio album is filled with intriguing characters and fascinating ruminations on life, death, love, and heartbreak.
“I feel like one of the things that sets country music apart from other types of music is the storytelling aspect,” the seven-time GRAMMY® winner says. “I want three-and-a-half-minute movies on the radio. I love that there’s a beginning, middle, and an end, and it all makes sense. You can follow the characters, and you can see it all playing out in your head. That’s what I’m drawn to, so that’s what I write, what I pick, and what I want to sing. All the songs on the album either are very character-driven mini-movies or they’re my own personal stories. Hopefully, both are entertaining and relatable.”
One of the most awarded singers in any genre of music, Underwood has built a stellar career on cinematic songs that pack an emotional wallop, from her first chart-topper “Jesus, Take the Wheel” to more recent No. 1 smashes such as “Blown Away,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” “Something in the Water,” and “Little Toy Guns.” Since winning American Idol in 2005, Underwood has sold 58 million records worldwide, scored 21 No. 1 hits (including 11 she co-wrote), and earned over 100 major awards. She was the first female artist to be twice named the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year. A respected member of the Grand Ole Opry, Underwood has tallied 38 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart with songs that have been streamed more than 1.5 billion times worldwide. In addition to her impressive recording career, Underwood branched out into acting with roles in film and television, including starring as Maria von Trapp in NBC’s Emmy®-winning The Sound of Music Live!, which attracted 44 million viewers. She has also launched her own fitness lifestyle line, CALIA by Carrie Underwood, which made a splash during New York Fashion Week 2015.
The Checotah, Oklahoma native’s four previous studio albums – Some Hearts, Carnival Ride, Play On, and Blown Away – have each been certified Platinum or multi-Platinum, and all have been named Country Album of the Year at the American Music Awards. In 2014, Underwood released her first hits collection, Greatest Hits: Decade #1. Storyteller has already continued that momentum with the record-breaking success of the hit first single, “Smoke Break.” “‘Smoke Break’ is all about the overworked, the tired, the people that just run to catch up,” Underwood says. “‘Smoke Break’ is about taking a step away for just a minute and being able to clear your head and collect your thoughts. We were very careful when we wrote it in wanting to make sure people understood the metaphor. That’s why we said, ‘I don’t smoke, but sometimes I need a smoke break. I don’t drink, but sometimes I need a stiff drink.’ It’s more about finding those things that take you away, whether that’s your coffee break or a glass of wine at night or your exercise or chatting with your mom. It’s that thing that is just for you, and it’s a release.”
From the small-town working mom and big-city ladder-climbing man she sings about in “Smoke Break” to the unsavory Bonnie and Clyde type couple in “Choctaw County Affair” and the spousal abuse survivor in “Church Bells,” Storyteller is populated with complex characters: an intentional effort by Underwood. “I naturally gravitate toward songs that have strong characters,” she says. “I don’t ever want to write a song or sing a song about a person that’s just there. That’s just not my style. And I feel like in the whole storytelling aspect, people are strongest when they’re pushed to their limits. When it’s do or die. Fight or flight. You’re either going to bend and come back stronger than ever, or you’re going to break. That’s why I pick songs like ‘Church Bells.’ This girl had to do something, or else she was going to pay the price. I just love songs about strong women. I love being sucked into that story: rooting for the woman and seeing that she does something powerful that she never thought she could do.”
Underwood describes the woman in “Church Bells” as “Fancy’s little sister,” referencing Reba’s iconic hit. “It’s just a cool story of a strong woman,” says Underwood of the song, which finds a poor but beautiful young girl married to an abusive, wealthy man. “In the song, she ends up killing him – which is not a new storyline for me – but again, it’s a movie in song form. The church bells do evolve. In the beginning, they represent a wedding. In the middle, they represent her needing some help after he abuses her, and at the end, the church bells represent the ones that ring out at his funeral, and she’s free. So a lot happens in three-and-a-half minutes.”
The woman in the album’s picturesque opener, “Renegade Runaway,” owes a lot to the women of the West. “She is dangerous. She’s wild. It’s not like she’s evil. She just can’t be tamed. She doesn’t need anybody to complete her,” Underwood explains. “The song has this great western Young Guns feel to it. When Hillary Lindsey, Chris DeStefano, and I were writing ‘Renegade Runaway,’ we were Googling all these belles of the Wild West. We were looking up pictures of these strong women standing there in their corsets and lace, and they had their guns on their hips. There were all of these incredible images and stories we were learning about these really strong women, and we were incorporating them into this character.”
Though the characters Underwood and her co-writers created drive a lot of action on Storyteller, the most poignant songs are those snapshots of her own life, including the tender ballad “Heartbeat.” “My husband and I are so lucky to be able to go to so many events and things,” she says. “We live our lives in the public and around people, but I’m the kind of person that just wants to be alone with him and be one on one. I don’t typically do very many love songs, but when we were writing ‘Heartbeat,’ there was something so real about it. “We live in this crazy, loud world where so much stuff is flying at us. Sometimes we just need to get back to what’s simple and what’s real.”
Another very personal song is “The Girl You Think I Am.” She says, “This is me telling my story about my dad. This is Hillary Lindsey talking about her dad. And that was David Hodges using a lot of his experience being a dad to girls. All of our personal stories are injected into this song that I hope is super-relatable on every level to others.”
The song that reflects the biggest change in Underwood’s life in 2015 is the closing track, “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted,” a celebration of marriage and motherhood that explores her feelings about her husband and their son Isaiah. “‘What I Never Knew I Always Wanted’ is definitely my story,” says Underwood. “I was pregnant at the time when we wrote it. I was never the kind of person that wanted this huge family, but the second I found out I was pregnant, it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! I did want this. Let’s write a song about it!’ And even with my husband, I was never the kind of person that wondered, ‘Where’s my Prince Charming?’ That wasn’t me at all. But then once I met him, and we started dating, I guess I realized I was wrong. And I could admit that. I could admit that I never planned this, but it happened, and I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. Stuff like that is extremely personal, but there’s going to be a lot of people out there that relate to this song. It’s my story, and I think it’s a lot of people’s story.”
In crafting her new album, Underwood worked for the first time with producers Jay Joyce (Little Big Town, Eric Church) and Zach Crowell (Sam Hunt, Keith Urban), as well as her longtime producer Mark Bright. “I want to grow, and I want to change, and I want my music to reflect that, and I felt like I just needed things to switch up a little bit in order to achieve that.
“I’m a very scheduled person,” she continues, “and I like knowing how things are going to happen and when they’re going to happen, which is why I also needed someone that was unpredictable to me. Jay Joyce is just an uber-creative guy. One time he literally had me singing through this voice box thing, like a bullhorn. It was just a different way of doing things. Zach Crowell was somebody that was new for me to work with, as well. I had written with him a little bit, and his name kind of started poppin’ up all over songs that I was choosing, so it just kind of made sense to work with him in a production sense. I’ve been working with Mark Bright for 10 years, and we are such a great team. I knew I wanted him to work on this album. All three producers allowed me to be me. Nobody ever tried to tell me to sing it like this or do it like this. I felt like that helped with the continuity of the album. We have an album with three producers, but with each, it was about bringing out the best for every song.”
In an already distinguished career, Storyteller feels like a landmark album. It’s a milestone felt by its creator. “The Storyteller album marks the beginning of a new chapter in every way in my life and my career,” Underwood says. “Musically, I feel like I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I feel like I’m more confident in myself as an entertainer, as a songwriter, as a singer. I’ve definitely evolved, and it’s all been very organic. The album has some songs that are a little more gritty and edgy, and others that have an R&B feel to them. Then there are these other songs that are just twangy. We brought in a lot of different elements in a way that makes the album feel fresh and new. I hope people just call it good music.”https://www.carrieunderwoodofficial.com/bio/
Bio From Official Granger Smith website.http://www.grangersmith.com/about
My name is Granger Smith. Sometimes long, fancy industry bios are helpful, but other times you just need to hear from the guy actually living it, so here’s my story.
I was born and raised Texan, and I’m proud of that. I grew up along with two brothers, a couple of yellow labrador retrievers and parents that stayed together because they loved each other. My life changed when I was 14 years old and decided I would teach myself to play guitar. This was motivated by two things: I thought the guitar would make girls pay attention to me, and George Strait played one. By the time I turned 15, I was performing weekends on small town stages in North Texas, and doing my best as a fan club member to attend every George Strait concert within driving distance. Playing high school football was an important rite of passage for me, along with hunting and fishing, but the dream of a music career consumed me. At age 19, I was satisfied with enough songs I had written to make an album. As a freshman at Texas A&M, I was able to scrape together some studio money by pre-selling the album to friends around campus. For being just a kid, that album did pretty well. It landed me a songwriting deal with EMI Music Publishing in Nashville, and the following year, I took the leap to Tennessee.
My time in Nashville was important. I absorbed the craft of songwriting from some of the best, learned my way around studios and recording gear, (which paid off for me later) and cut my teeth on countless stages as both a singer and as a steel guitar player for other singers. After four years, I had a shelf full of song demos, a little bit of music business know-how and a strong conviction to move back to Texas, finish my degree at Texas A&M, and start a band.
Moving back to College Station meant basically starting over. The gigs were hard to book and when they did, nobody showed up to watch. But I was happy and felt creative. I saved money by making albums out of my house and using my band. We wore out vehicles and went from two pickup trucks, to a suburban, to a van and then another van. The trailers we towed got bigger, and ever so slowly, so did our crowds. I learned how to use a camera and some editing software for making homemade music videos and we made lots of them.
My little brother, Tyler joined me in 2008. He traded a pretty good job at the bank to jump in an old van and sell t-shirts in honky-tonk dive bars. I think he did it not only because he shared the same vision as me, but also because his competitive nature was excited about proving a bunch of people wrong. And that’s exactly what we did. Together we conspired and worked from the ground up with the goal of not only building an artist, but a brand. We embraced social media, searched for real connections with fans, studied our predecessors and ignored our doubters. The good shows helped pay for all the bad ones, and the songs that sold helped fund all the others that didn’t. We put communities first, knowing that without the people, we were without a job.
We created alter-egos through videos to help promote the music and that’s where Earl Dibbles Jr. came from in the summer of 2011. It started as a short, funny video that my brothers and I filmed out where my parents live in Central Texas, but it turned out to be something that completely changed the shape of my career. I actually like to think of it as an “intentional accident” because as planned, the video went viral and became a huge promotional tool for my music. But we had no way to know if it would actually work, especially since many of my videos before it never caught fire.
In the early morning of April 16, 2013, I woke up and checked the iTunes store on my phone with tired eyes. I was absolutely shocked to see my new album, Dirt Road Driveway sitting at #1. Things were rapidly changing on the road, too. We were seeing sold out shows in markets we had never played, and a passion in fans unlike anything I had seen before. After independently releasing 7 studio albums, 1 live album and 2 EPs, I finally signed my first record deal in 2015. I met some great people at Broken Bow Music Group (BBR Music Group) in Nashville who sought us out, believed in my dedication and wanted to take what I was already doing, and magnify the message. We worked together not only as colleagues, but as friends unified on the same mission. Within only weeks of the signing, my debut single “Backroad Song” was a hit at mainstream country radio faster than any of us expected.
A few years ago, I was standing with my boots in red, sandy, Iraqi soil watching a beautifully majestic Middle Eastern sunset, when one of my band members asked me, “Can you believe music got us here?” No, I can’t. What a journey it has been since I decided to chase this crazy dream. We’ve played 10 countries, 3 continents, even the White House a few times, and I still can’t believe it all started with a few guitar chords. In my song called “Sleeping On The Interstate,” I wrote, “Connecting map dots like poets and prisoners, trying to live more like a lover than sinner, slave to dreams so far away.” That’s me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the music business, it’s that you don’t really choose this life, you are this life. That’s the truth no matter if you’re selling albums or not. I do what I love and love what I do, and there’s no sweeter freedom than that.
Years before they climbed the country charts with songs like “Stay a Little Longer” and “Rum,” the Brothers Osborne grew up in Deale, Maryland, a small fishing town on the Atlantic seaboard. It was a cozy place, filled with blue-collar workers who made their living on the water. During the weekends, many of those workers would head over to the Osborne household, where a series of loose, all-night jam sessions filled the Maryland air with the sounds of Bob Seger, Hank Williams, Tom Petty and George Jones.
The Osborne siblings strummed their first chords during those jam sessions. From the very start, TJ Osborne was the brother with the voice. He sang in a thick, low baritone, crooning like Johnny Cash long before he was even old enough to drive. Older brother John, on the other hand, was the family’s guitar shredder, his fingers capable of down-home bluegrass licks, arena-worthy rock riffs, country twang, and everything in between. Combined, the two Osbornes could play everything from traditional country music to rock & roll, creating a broad, full-bodied sound that would eventually fill the 11 songs on their major-label debut, Pawn Shop.
Like its title suggests, Pawn Shop offers a little bit of everything. There’s bluesy slide guitar, country duets, southern rock solos, harmonies, and plenty of groove. The hooks are big, the guitars are loud, and the songs — every last one of them co-written by the Osbornes, who reached out to award-winning songwriters like Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman for help — introduce a duo whose music bridges the gap between the mainstream and the alternative world. Some songs were written at home in Nashville, while others came together on the road, where the guys spent several years headlining their own club shows, touring the country with Darius Rucker, and playing some of the biggest arenas in America with fellow rule-breaker Eric Church.
“Most duos are built on singing,” says TJ “But John is an incredible guitar player, and this band is built on me singing and John playing guitar. It gives us two parallels that work nicely together.”
“It’s like an old-school rock approach,” adds John, who cites classic bands like Aerosmith and the Allman Brothers as influences on the duo’s dynamic. “Groups like that always had the lead singer as well as the sideman guitar player. That’s what we’re going for, too. We’re carving our own path in country music.”
That unique path has already led the band toward the upper half of the country charts. “Rum” got them there first, mixing the feel-good sunshine of a beach tune with a far more realistic storyline. There’s no actual beach in “Rum,” after all. Instead, Brothers Osborne turn the song into a tribute to the simple pleasures that their Maryland hometown offers: friends, good weather, and the occasional drink. They even filmed the song’s music video in Deale, filling the clip with footage of friends, relatives, and locals.
“Most people we grew up with don’t go to these beautiful beaches,” says TJ. “They can’t afford to do it. They don’t have the time for it. What we’re most familiar with is people going to the local bars and hanging out with each other.” John adds, “We tried to have the biggest time possible with what little we had. ‘Rum’ explains that.” The brothers agree, “We had to say it from our own perspective.”
A similar theme runs throughout “Dirt Rich” and “Pawn Shop,” two songs that stress the importance of appreciating what you’ve got. Pawn Shop dishes up plenty of love songs, too, from “Loving Me Back” — an old-school country duet featuring vocals from Lee Ann Womack — to “Stay a Little Longer,” the band’s biggest hit to date. While a three-minute guitar solo brings “Stay a Little Longer” to an epic, anthemic close, Brothers Osborne also devote time to more laid-back songs, from the nostalgic California country of “21 Summer” to the 420-friendly “Greener Pastures.”
Brothers Osborne, who co-produced the album with Jay Joyce (the award-winning producer behind Little Big Town’s Painkiller, Eric Church’s The Outsiders, and Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller), recorded most of Pawn Shop during breaks in their busy touring schedule, using members of their own touring band rather than session musicians from the Nashville community. The result is an album that’s stamped with the unmistakable mark of a band. It doesn’t sound like two singers, flanked by anonymous players. Instead, it sounds like a group of road warriors who’ve spent years sharing bus seats and hotel rooms, creating the sort of chemistry that can’t be faked. Pawn Shop is both raw and real, and Brothers Osborne — who, years after those household jam sessions in Deale, now have a handful of nationwide tours under their belts, songs on the charts, and a career on the rise — are no longer a family secret.
Thought we would share this cool you tube video play list, that gives the run down of the Billboard top Country songs of 2015. So many awesome songs and videos here from some of Country Musics best of the best. We look forward to sharing many great websites and destinations that speak country music to us all.
Blake Shelton is many things. He is the hugely popular coach on the top-rated television music competition show The Voice, where singers he’s mentored have won three of six seasons. He is the reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year. He’s the charismatic live entertainer performing to packed houses in arenas, amphitheaters and stadiums across the country.
But the one overriding facet of who Blake Shelton is led him down a path that made all these other designations possible. Blake Shelton is a Country. Music. Singer.
Shelton is in a league of his own among contemporary country artists as a top-shelf interpreter of true country music songs, and Shelton’s 11th studio album, BRINGING BACK THE SUNSHINE, marks a return to showcasing that talent with an album that sonically represents the best contemporary country has to offer, yet feels like the classic cuts served up by the heroes that inspired Shelton as young boy in Ada., Oklahoma some 30 years ago. It’s a journey that includes a CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy, three RIAA certified Platinum albums, five RIAA certified Gold albums, 17 total No. 1 country singles,7.6 million albums and 22.8 million singles sold, and a four-year run as reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year.
On BRINGING BACK THE SUNSHINE, producer Scott Hendricks, Shelton’s longtime friend and collaborator, created an album that highlights what is arguably the most powerful vocals Blake Shelton has ever recorded. “If there’s one thing that is important to me, no matter what, it’s singing,” says Shelton. “I’m a fan of a lot of artists, but I always gravitate to the singers, and that’s why I always looked up to Earl Thomas Conley, Travis Tritt, Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty. These guys never went through the motions when it came to laying down a vocal.”
“That’s my job, to be the best singer I can be when I get in the studio,” says Shelton. “I don’t ever want someone to hear me on the radio and say ‘yeah, he’s singing okay, but where’s the heart?’ I want it all to be in there.”
From soaring confessionals and convincing professions of love and loss in cuts like the steel-drenched nostalgia of “Good Country Song,” the yearning “Sangria,” and the vulnerability of “Anyone Else,” to immediately memorable up- and mid-tempos such as the hilarious “Buzzin’,” innocent romanticism of “Gonna” and the Southern rock/country blend of the title cut, SUNSHINE is an album of highlights, and the exact tonic country music needs right now.
In short, SUNSHINE is a sterling example of what contemporary country music can be at its best, unfettered by outside influences and trends. “Our goal every time is to make the best record we can possibly make, and not let any politics or anything else get in the way of that,” says Shelton. “It’s me coming in and trying to be the best singer I can be, and Scott pushing me to do that, along with all the other jobs he has of making a record.”
Thirteen years since his first single “Austin” hit the top of the country radio charts, Shelton now holds 17 No. 1 singles to his credit, recently breaking his own record for most consecutive No. 1s at country radio. With 12 singles, including five from his last album alone, Shelton has the most No. 1s in a row on the country radio charts by any artist.
That unprecedented hot streak seems destined to continue on SUNSHINE, a recording process that begins with Shelton’s and Hendricks’ never-ending search for the perfect songs for Shelton’s supple baritone and demanding lyrical standards. “The only thing I really knew I wanted to do for sure—and Scott agreed—was, ‘let’s make a ‘country-er’ record than we’ve made in a while,” Shelton says, “and I do think we accomplished that. It definitely has elements of things you hear on the radio now, but I think it’s more of a throwback to some of those earlier albums I made with [producer] Bobby Braddock, as far as the lyrical content and even the melodies.”
The public’s first taste of that focus was ‘Neon Light,” which Shelton describes as owning a “straight up George Strait, George Jones or Conway Twitty sounding chorus, mixed with the more recent stuff that I have recorded.” Thematically, the always-confident Shelton knew what he wanted. “One of the things I felt like I should do as a country singer was record music again that’s about breakin’ up, and heartache, and going and getting drunk,” he says. “The last two albums I made, one was just before I got married and one was just after I got married. I was in a really good place, and still am. But, at some point, I feel a responsibility to get back to, honestly, some of the more stereotypical things about country music. Those were the things that drew me to country music, so I wanted to sing about going to a bar, or somebody breaking your heart, singin’ about girls and things. More classic country music topics, you know?”
But even with the familiarity SUNSHINE evokes, the album often surprises, as with the keenly insightful “Anyone Else,” a song few artists would have had the courage to cut. Shelton says he “stole” that song from his wife. “She was going to record that for her Platinum album,” Shelton reveals with a laugh. “I absolutely fell in love with that song, and I begged her for it. She owed me one anyway from ‘House That Built Me,’ so I quilted her on that to get the song I wanted.”
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine anyone else singing “Anyone Else,” a song of rare emotional nakedness to which Shelton brings a startling intensity. Shelton says it starts with the song, written by Luke Laird, Barry Dean and Natalie Hemby. With its gentle opening guitar notes, what first appears to be a chiming, easy-rolling ballad reveals itself with striking lyrics like “a jealous sky won’t share the sun,” resulting in one of the most powerful songs Shelton has ever laid down.
“’Anyone Else’ is unlike anything else I’ve ever heard before,” Shelton says. “I can’t even tell you how much I love that song, I think it’s one of the most important songs I’ve ever recorded. I’ve been the guy on both sides of that song. I’ve been the guy that’s been jealous and hard on somebody, and not even know why, and I’ve also been the victim of that. The song is so relatable, and it’s so sad. Every time I sing it, there’s a different person that comes to mind that I’m singing it about, but it always includes me. But it hurts when people are hard on you, jealous or insecure, and won’t allow you to just be. I’ve experienced more of that in the last few years of my life than I have the other 38 years all put together. And when I can find a song that I can dump all those thoughts and emotions into, it’s a real big deal to me.”
More treasures abound on BRINGING BACK THE SUNSHINE, often filtered through the astute ears of Shelton’s in-house sample group, Miranda Lambert. “After I get some things I’m pumped about, I like to get Miranda in the truck and just play her stuff,” says Shelton. “When she heard ‘South Of Heaven,’ she played it again and again, and I called Scott and said, ‘man, we’re cuttin’ ‘South Of Heaven.’ Once we cut it, it became clear that this was one of my favorite ballads I’ve ever recorded.”
“South Of Heaven” is one of three vastly different tracks on SUNSHINE co-written by Wiseman. “The way Craig Wiseman can write a song blows my mind,” Shelton marvels. “He can not only put you in that moment, but in that person’s brain and what they’re feeling. [‘South Of Heaven’] definitely takes me back to high school, or even a little after high school, those moments that just seem magical, whenever you had that girl and you went back-roadin’, or whatever your particular version is—we all have a version of it—that song definitely takes me there.”
Conversely, another Wiseman gem, “Buzzin’” conjures up a different feeling entirely. “What I love about Craig, and I think ‘Buzzin’’ is a good representation of this, he’s so brilliant, so smart with his songwriting. “These songs are so genius and yet still so goofy at the same damn time. Every time I see his name on a song I can’t wait to hear it.”
Shifting gears yet again, Shelton believes “Sangria” is “one of the sexiest songs I’ve ever cut,” he says. “It sounds like something that came from a different time, almost like something Chris Isaak would have had on one of his records at some point. It’s just about one of those nights where you drink too much and you’re gonna end up hookin’ up with this person, it’s just inevitable. It’s not too over the top, but it’s pure sex, that’s the only way I know to describe that song.”
“Lonely Tonight,” a stirring duet with Ashley Monroe, was the “toughest vocal on the record for me,” Shelton says. “That song is just so range-y and, on top of that, I knew Ashley was going to come in and sing on it, and I knew that people were gonna hear her singing in a way they’d never heard her sing before,” he says. “We all know she’s a singer/songwriter, and we’ve all heard that side of her, but I don’t think people know the girl can wail like she can. I just wanted to step up to that level, so I was really hard on myself, and tried to make that as best as I could possibly get it.”
Others came more easily, like “I Need My Girl.” “That’s right in my wheelhouse of what I do, along the lines of ‘She Wouldn’t Be Gone’ or ‘Over You,’ some of those type of records that are kind of a power ballad,” Shelton says. “That’s my natural go-to, and that was fun for me to sing.”
While Shelton is about as stone country as a singer can get, he is deeply immersed in all sorts of music due to his other gig on The Voice (the seventh season began Sept. 22), a dynamic that inevitably infuses those influences into his own work. “Anything that you take in is gonna come back out in some way, and it has been doing that, for sure,” he says. Reflecting on that thought, Shelton adds, “I’m a country singer, and there’s nothing I’ll ever be able to do about that, or want to do about it. When I open my mouth, it’s country, and always has been. I just wanted to embrace that, embrace exactly who I am, to make this record. If somebody wants to get the gist of who I am from start to finish, I think this album musically encompasses all the roads I’ve explored as an artist.”
With its spirit of optimism, the song made perfect sense to Shelton as the title for the album. “I love the message of the song. It’s about a couple that’s gone through something, probably separated, and just decided to get back together, what’s most important is their love,” Shelton explains. “There’s something magical about that title, and given what this album is all about, I thought ‘BRINGING BACK THE SUNSHINE’ is like I’m bringing back some country music, some of these sounds we don’t hear that much anymore in country, at least in the mainstream,” he says. “Country is sunshine to me.”
Perhaps the defining track on SUNSHINE is “A Good Country Song,” a bittersweet, breathtaking slice of nostalgia written by Tommy Lee James, Matt Jenkins, and Jessi Alexander. “Jessi Alexander is a great friend of mine, and she got in touch with me when she heard we were cutting tracks and said, ‘I heard you’re recording, can I start writing for your project?’” Shelton says. “I said, ‘hell yeah.’ She’s written some very important songs in my career, like ‘Drink On It,‘ she co-wrote ‘Might Only Be You.’ When she writes for me, she literally writes for me, and if you ever question that, you only need listen to the lyric of ‘A Good Country Song.’ When I heard the lyric, it was almost as if she grew up in the same house I grew up in, from shifting the gears in my dad’s truck to listening to Earl Thomas Conley on a station out of Tulsa. There has never been a more accurate song about me that I have recorded.”
That’s it, in a nutshell. BRINGING BACK THE SUNSHINE showcases the many facets of a complicated person with a simple mission: creating a diverse, powerful country music album.
SUNSHINE taps into Shelton’s innate vocal rhythm, resulting in songs that are more pulsing than pounding, tempo notwithstanding. “It’s an accident, but it’s still by design of trying to keep the pulse up a little bit,” Shelton says, “while not getting too boring, because I do tend to be a ballad singer.”
So even if SUNSHINE finds Shelton entering a new phase of his career, the record still finds simultaneously him looking back and forward, in tone if not overall musicality. He’s still that guy who forfeited high school athletics to play gigs, who obsessed over the liners of each new country album he bought, who took off for Nashville at 17 armed with nothing but a dream and a country voice for the ages.
“It’s very important to me to push myself and push boundaries, musically and artistically, and always be looking for what’s next,” he says. “But it’s also important for me to come back and touch home base every once in a while, to be sure there’s always a firm foot planted in country music. Country’s defined a lot of different ways by a lot of different people, and I’m sure there are other people out there that will listen to ‘A Good Country Song’ and say ‘aw, that ain’t country.’ But country’s defined by each individual, and this is my definition of stepping back a little bit, let’s make a record that represents the beginning of my career, but also blending with where I’ve ended up. I think there’s still a place for that in country radio, and it’s important as an industry that we all don’t get too far away from home.”
This past summer, Shelton has been away from home performing before hordes of fans who have turned out for sold-out shows at iconic venues like New York’s Madison Square Garden, LA’s Hollywood Bowl and Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Shelton is wrapping the biggest tour of his career, but finds getting face-to-face with fans rewarding on multiple levels. “It’s so exciting to look down and see a six year old girl singing the words to ‘Ol’ Red’ or ‘Austin,’ and then look over and see a 60 year-old woman singing ‘Boys ‘Round Here,’ singing ‘backwoods legit, don’t take no shit.’ I always said my ultimate goal is to have a career like George Strait, and although I haven’t done that—and nobody probably ever will—that is my goal. And to step out there and see that it’s going from one generation to another, that’s the most satisfying and exciting thing that any artist can accomplish.”
So if the more seasoned and savvy TV era Blake could tell the driven 17 year-old Blake that headed off to Nashville anything, “I’d tell him just to relax and stop worrying so much,” he says. “I knew the one thing that I wanted to do with my life was country music, it worried me to death. I was never one of those people who was like, ‘I’ll give it a shot for a while and then move on.’ It never was that for me, it was ‘how am I gonna get this done, how am I gonna get my foot in the door?’ Even after I had a hit or two, it was worry of ‘how can I keep this going?’ It wasn’t until the last three or four years that I finally started taking a deep breath and going, ‘man, I get to be a country singer, and it’s OK.’ I get to do it now. I don’t care at what level, as long as I get to be country singer,’ that’s all I ever wanted to do.”