Blake Shelton

These are challenging times for a country performer hoping to find mainstream success without losing his soul. Consider Blake Shelton, a promising young singer from Oklahoma whose deal with a major label, Warner Bros., represents the sort of opportunity that overflows with temptations. "Love Gets in the Way" and "On a Good Day," which he co-wrote, are among the highlights of Blake Shelton's Bar & Grill, his new disc; they're accessible without being either cloying or obvious. But instead of filling out the album with similar material, he embraces commercialism via the likes of "Some Beach," an unappetizing serving from the Jimmy buffet that mentions Margaritaville in the very first verse. Unfortunately, radio programmers reacted to this desperate bid for airplay by turning "Some Beach" into a sizable hit, and its popularity will only increase the pressure on Shelton to take an uninteresting route to fame and fortune. There's no telling which direction he'll eventually turn, but one thing's for certain: The challenges won't get any easier.


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