Blake Shelton — “God Gave Me You”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | August 8th, 2011

blakesheltonSongwriter: Dave Barnes

After the runaway summer hit show The Voice catapulted him into the mainstream vernacular, Blake Shelton may very well be country music’s biggest ambassador right now.

After more than a decade of persistence – and perhaps a little help from his recent nuptials with fellow fan favorite Miranda Lambert – the stars seemed to have aligned to make Shelton one in his own right.

With that new title and a bigger audience, it stands to reason that his subsequent radio singles could go two ways: Shelton could soldier on with the blunt brand of hillbilly music now nearly synonymous with the B.S. brand, or cast a wider net that would fit somewhere into the genre-blended mash-up played simultaneously on adult contemporary, pop and mainstream country radio stations.

Shelton seems to have split the difference, taking both roads in quick succession. After the twangy “Honey Bee” sent new country fans rushing to Google “Little Loretta,” the smooth-voiced singer now tries his hand at the latter on Red River Blue’s second single “God Gave Me You.”

The result is harmless enough, but symptomatic of a larger problem. Despite the humor, charisma, authenticity and charm that has fueled his career, Shelton’s biggest weakness has remained his choice of material. And while he has certainly shined on career-defining story songs such as his debut “Austin,” “Ol’ Red” and even the droll “Some Beach,” the sum of his singles have never added up to an impressive collection of work.

That trend continues with “God Gave Me You,” which trades out his recent string of good-time party songs for something a little more substantial. Borrowed from contemporary Christian artist Dave Barnes, it’s an adventurous choice reminiscent of his 2008 Michael Bubles cover “Home,” sans its lyrical elegance and subtle layers of steel guitar and string.

His honest, vibrant vocal performance is nearly canceled out by a tinny instrumental mix of anonymous background vocals and a looping drum beat that drowns emotion with commotion. While Shelton’s connection to off-puttingly pretentious lyrics such as “You’ll always be love’s great martyr/And I’ll be the flattered fool” are contextually intimate, the production seems to be gunning for a worldwide live stream.

Shelton fights an uphill battle with paint-by-numbers noise, and it’s the listener that loses on “God Gave Me You.” But the bigger war is Shelton’s consistent sacrifice of a memorable catalog for forgettably catchy singles – especially now that all eyes are on him.

Thumbs Down

  1. Ben Foster
    August 8, 2011 at 10:50 am

    That about nails it. He gives a good performance, but the production just ruins it.

  2. Matt Bjorke
    August 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I love the Dave Barnes song (I’d clarify that he’s an indie pop singer, not a Christian artist as this song ‘crossed over’ to Christian). I like this song but wish they’d have stripped the drum machine away and let Blake sing this as a simple love song to his new wife, which I think it is.

  3. Thomas
    August 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    …and that’s the best you have to offer in return, mr. shelton?

  4. Leeann Ward
    August 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I don’t know if I’d like the song even without the overblown production, though it certainly doesn’t help.

Tagged In This Article

Current Discussion

  • mrsandy: Also worth noting: Priscilla Mitchell was Jerry Reed's widow.
  • Leeann Ward: Wow! My heart goes out to Allison Moorer. She's had so many terrible things happen in her life. It's too …
  • Leeann Ward: I must have this audio book!
  • Juli Thanki: Ha! Same thing happened at Sturgill Simpson's show I went to last month, only he was singing "I Never Go …
  • Dave D.: On the topic of Lee Ann and dark songs, the funniest moment at this year's Americana Fest was during her …
  • Jonathan Pappalardo: I love Lori McKenna. Coming from Massachusetts, she's our local girl. I've been fortunate to see her in concert a …
  • bll: I suss her re-recording her hits for 'Gwendolen records' means she can stop MCA from releasing her hits against her.
  • Greg Judy: Cooler festivals and marching bands at the football games!
  • kevin ilinger: Fall colors bluegrass and apple cider
  • luckyoldsun: If I was a "long-time fan" of Trisha, I'd probably spring for the CD.

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • tom t hall storytellers
  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton
  • sturgillsimpsonmetamodern
  • raypricebeautyis