2015 marks Blake Shelton’s 15th year in the industry; with a four year stint as a judge on The Voice, nine studio albums and thirty one singles under his belt, twenty of which have reached the number one spot on Billboard’s US Country Airplay charts, he’s had an illustrious career. Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits collects his twenty chart topping achievements alongside one extra song, showcasing the defining moments of his career in a collection that Shelton fans are sure to enjoy.
There’s an obvious trend when it comes to the tracks on Reloaded: The album contains a mixture of styles from banjo-touting to more adult contemporary style tracks, and over the course of 21 songs there’s a lot of space for variety. However, a majority of the tracks tend to lean more towards the more contemporary style of pop-influenced country, especially near the beginning of the collection as it runs in reverse chronological order. This consistency makes sense, as it was established as a style that sold well for him, but makes for an occasionally stale listening experience in the album’s first half.
It’s still quite obviously something he does well, though: Lonely Tonight with Ashley Monroe and My Eyes with Gwen Sebastian are still extremely strong contemporary country tracks with their voices working well together on both tracks, and the almost blatantly stereotypical country attitude of Boys ‘Round Here and Hillbilly Bone show he can always have fun with the genre as well, even if Boys ‘Round Here’s lyrics have left a sour taste in some critics’ mouths in the past.
The lone three tracks not produced by Scott Hendricks make for some nice closing nostalgia to boot; Some Beach in particular still stands out as one of the strongest tracks in his career. It’s an unassuming little country track, almost to the point that you may not believe it managed to hit number one on the charts, but its charm and unmistakable country twang never fails.
If there’s anything that can be said to sum up this compilation, it’s that it captures Shelton’s essence perfectly. His brand of country is one that tops charts for a clear reason; even if there are moments of the compilation that are hard to get through, the tracks themselves are all solid, only ever suffering in sections where mid-tempos or sombre songs cluster together. Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits is a must have for any Shelton mega fan, or even those who are somehow still unfamiliar with him that are interested in experiencing his work.