Following the award-winning success of "Hillbilly Bone," his first Six Pak, country singer Blake Shelton is excited and a little bit apprehensive as he looks ahead to the Aug. 10 release of a second, as-yet-untitled EP.
"I think the second time around is gonna be more important than the first one," Shelton tells Billboard.com, "because we'll see just how many people will go back a few months later and buy another album.
"Hillbilly Bone" came out in March and debuted at No. 2 on the Country Albums charts and No. 3 on the Top 200; it also launched the chart-topping title track, a collaboration with Trace Adkins that was the Academy of Country Music's Vocal Event of the Year and the CMT Music Award for Best Collaborative Video. The next Six Pak already has a head of steam thanks to "All About Tonight," which is Shelton's fastest-rising single to date. Shelton says he and producer Scott Hendricks are "still cutting right now" for the EP, though it will definitely include a track called "Who Are You When I'm Not Lookin' " as well as "Suffocating," which was written by Shelton's fiance Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum's Hilary Scott.
"The difference in this Six Pak and ('Hillbilly Bone') is we're going to have two singles off this one," Shelton explains. "Looking back on the last one, I wish we would've done that. We're kind of learning as we go here, and it's kind of trial and error. You can always find ways to make something a little better, and I think having two singles off it will help."
Shelton says he'll definitely release another full-length album -- which "shouldn't be that far off," he notes -- but he still finds the Six Pak concept both commercially and creatively appealing.
"It does make me feel more creative," Shelton explains. "It's ongoing recording, which is a lot of fun for me. If we've got one song or five songs that we're excited about, we'll go in and cut 'em right then, and after we have a catalog of songs that we're excited about we'll decide which one really fit together. I feel like I'm making a mini greatest hits every time I put out one of these, 'cause I feel strongly about each and every one of those songs. It's more of a dynamite in a small package kind of thing."
Shelton says the Six Pak concept has also stirred the interest of Nashville's songwriting community. "Because of the way we're making records these days," he notes, "we're constantly getting first crack at everybody's songs in town. They know as soon as we hear something we like we'll go cut it, and chances are we'll have another album coming out in a matter of three or four months at any given time. In fact, I don't write as much as I should because we're getting all these great songs from the top songwriters in Nashville, and I can't keep up with that."
In addition to the Six Pak, Shelton also filmed his May 26 concert in Evansville, Ind., for an upcoming DVD and potential television special. The footage will also yield a video for "All About Tonight."