Startin' Fires

Startin' Fires

A flourishing country career and a rejuvenated love life have eased the negative undertone heard on Blake Shelton's early releases. Startin’ Fires is the work of an artist on an emotional upswing, facing up to old mistakes in the light of new happiness. Shelton takes time to acknowledge his roots as tunes like the witty “Green” and the sentimental “Country Strong” pay tribute to rural America. But of more immediate concern is Blake’s hot romance with singer Miranda Lambert, celebrated in the sassy “Good At Startin’ Fires” and the playful duet “Bare Skin Rug.” On “This Is Gonna Take All Night,” he engages in some smooth musical foreplay worthy of Conway Twitty. Shelton’s positive attitude allows him to dig into his thoughtful ballads with a sense of perspective. It helps that the lovelorn tunes here — especially “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” and “100 Miles” — are a cut above the usual Nashville heartbreak fare. Startin’ Fires is a noticeably personal record, but it doesn’t suffer from the sort of self-indulgence that the term often implies. Shelton turns his good times into fine listening on this well-rounded release.

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