Blake Shelton and the folks at Reprise must have been encouraged by both the reception and sales of his "six pack" EP, Hillbilly Bone, because barely five months later, he followed with another one in All About Tonight. There are certain advantages to the format: the artist can be reliant on one single instead of three or four, and cohesion and flow are not as important as they would be on a traditional long-player. Finally, the price point is more attractive to fans. Shelton does two things, and he does them extremely well: rowdy, rocking contemporary tunes about raising hell and making romantic mischief, and singing (mostly) believable ballads. The rollicking title track reached number ten on the Billboard Country chart before this set was released. In addition, it features two contributions from real-life fiance Miranda Lambert. The first is the duet "Draggin' the River," a sassy, good-time, honky tonk love song designed for dancing -- their voices trade lines easily enough and it's capped by a popping slide guitar solo. The other one is "Suffocating," written by Lambert and Hillary Scott. It's a convincing midtempo ballad with big production -- particularly in the drums and the electric guitars -- and the requisite dynamics that make it swell from the middle toward the end, where it becomes anthemic. Another fun track is "That Thing We Do," a designed-to-be-sexy uptempo number written by Jeff Bates and Jason Matthews. It is, as country records go in the early 21st century, both innocent and brazen. Like Hillbilly Bone, All About Tonight wasn't recorded to reach a new audience, so much as shore up Shelton's fan base while furthering his chosen marketing experiment. ~ Thom Jurek
Entertainment Weekly (p.75) - "[T]hese tracks bat a solid five-for-six." -- Grade: B
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