Blake Shelton is a fine vocalist of considerable range who manages to keep a straight face while performing such overtly silly songs as his leadoff single "Austin." When the material is better, Shelto

Blake Shelton is a fine vocalist of considerable range who manages to keep a straight face while performing such overtly silly songs as his leadoff single "Austin." When the material is better, Shelton is most of the time. He sings hard on Braddock's "I Thought There Was Time," nails the irony of "Problems at Home," and burns on "If I Was Your Man." Conversely, "Every Time I Look at You" is a pop-ish rocker with an awkward break and out-of-place banjo (just because Dixie Chicks pulled it off doesn't mean it's gonna work for everyone). And "All Over Me," a well-written piano-based power ballad that Shelton co-wrote with Earl Thomas Conley, is a tad over-sung. A very cool dog/prison song in "Ol' Red," performed with style by Shelton, is almost enough to save the project. When Shelton complains of "the same old vanilla" on country radio in Braddock's excellent "Same Old Song," it's a point well-taken. But it might ring even more true if it weren't coming from a videogenic guy in a cowboy hat with an absurd single that may well make him a star.—RW