Blake Shelton, “I’ll Just Hold On”

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February 20, 2009

blake-sheltonBlake Shelton has the kind of natural talent and charisma that most performers in Nashville can only dream of. His voice is smooth and strong, sexy yet comforting. It is neither too feminine nor too masculine, thereby making it easily vulnerable enough for the Rascal Flatts crowd, yet tough enough for the Toby Keith crowd. Shelton also stands out as a country traditionalist with pop sensibilities, equally as comfortable with a hootenanny as he is with the torch ballad. And unlike most other artists in recent memory, this natural talent has enabled Shelton to reach the top of the country charts five times, including with his last two singles (“Home” and “She Wouldn’t Be Gone”), without being a household name.

However, despite Shelton’s immense likability and natural talent, when a talented artist appears to be headed on the wrong direction, his fans should stand up and give notice. The second single from Shelton’s recent album, Startin’ Fires, “I’ll Just Hold On,” clearly implicates one of those times. Shelton is infinitely better than this banal single about a girl with a gypsy soul who hangs around just long enough to play with an Oklahoma boy’s heart before moving on. He has tenfold the personality and talent that this prosaic song and standard Nashville country-pop production would have us believe.

As a fan, Shelton’s tendency in recent releases to pander too much to today’s radio audience and make his releases as bland as possible, both musically and lyrically, is worrying. For a consummate stage performer with raunchy charm and a magnetic presence, one must wonder what is happening in the studio. Blake Shelton, the person and performer, is not presently being translated onto his albums. Hopefully, the real Blake Shelton shows up with better material – and puts more of himself into the material – next time around.

Songwriters: Ben Hayslip, Troy Olsen, Bryant Simpson

Grade: C+

Listen: “I’ll Just Hold On”

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23 Comments

Category: Single Reviews
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23 Comments so far

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  1. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I blame Scott Hendricks. Bring Bobby Braddock back!

  2. Crazy ConnieNo Gravatar says:

    Blake is Blake, he sings what he feels, and true BSers eat it up no matter what it is. Sing me the phone book, sing me the Bible, I’ll be right here to support you, Blake!

    I do have to question whether or not Alan Jackson is ‘tough’. I adore him, way before Blake stole my devotion from him, but I never considered Alan tough.

    We BSers, tried & true, are used to a poor review becoming a #1 hit. Stash this one away so we can make fun of it once I’ll Just Hold On becomes another #1, okay?

  3. Blake made the music he wanted to make.
    He was criticised for recording “HOM and many said he would be lucky to make it to #10 with “She Wouldn’t Be Gone”
    I love “I’ll Just Hold On” and many more on “Startin’ Fires” and the song is in my head all the time.
    Guess I will click your link and enjoy it once again.
    Thanks for the review, Connie.

  4. geauxlsuNo Gravatar says:

    When I first heard “I’ll Just Hold On,” I loved it & I am sticking by Blake Shelton now. It will be a great hit & I just love the song. Blake is awesome in almost anything he sings.
    We BSers will stand behind Blake, all the way.

  5. KelliNo Gravatar says:

    Although it’s a little bit early to be making big, or in your case small predictions, about this song, I will say I respect your opinion!

    It isn’t uncommon for some to think that a Blake song won’t rise to the top of the charts, but in the end, they are eating their words with a big tall glass of BS, while he’s sitting pretty in the #1 spot!

    Thanks for the review, we’ll see you at the top of the charts!

  6. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Ha, I guess I never pegged Jackson as tough either:), but I know what Lynn was getting at. He’s tough in comparison to her counter example.

    As I’ve said a million times before, it’s even more disappointing when artists I like take a musical wrong turn. I could care less if it’s someone like Rascal Flatts or Kenny Chesney who puts out a bad song since I’ve come to expect it from them, but I’m more inclined to be annoyed when good artists misstep too often. As a fan of Blake Shelton (though clearly not a member of his fan club/street team),I think this album as a whole was a misstep for Blake. I’ve felt the same about Dierks Bentley and Pat Green’s latest albums…and I’m not happy about it. Even my favorite artist in the universe, Vince Gill, has made music that I haven’t liked and I’m not hesitant to admit it. I think it’s a disservice to our favorite artists to blindly follow them even when they aren’t doing their best work. If we do that, we may just end up with more of the same mediocrity instead of pushing them to do better. I don’t want my favorites to slide down a slippery slope, because there’s a chance they’ll never come back up again.

    “true BSers eat it up no matter what it is.”

    I think it’s unfair to assume/suggest that people who dare to say something negative about an artist aren’t true fans. I’m much more likely to trust reviews or opinions of people when I know they have some disgression about even their favorite artists. If they just say “Everything they do is great”, I’m pretty much assured that I need to move onto opinions that are more discerning.

  7. Occasional HopeNo Gravatar says:

    “I think this album as a whole was a misstep for Blake. I’ve felt the same about Dierks Bentley and Pat Green’s latest albums…and I’m not happy about it.”

    I completely agree with Leeann on both Blake and Dierks’ current albums – both are real disappointments compared to their previous work, and their underlying talent.

    I think it does an artist a disservice for fans to insist that everything they do is perfect if it isn’t.

  8. Allyson HernandezNo Gravatar says:

    “I think it does an artist a disservice for fans to insist that everything they do is perfect if it isn’t.”

    Supporting an artist you love and finding something you like in their latest venture is NOT saying everything they do is perfect. There are some songs on Startin Fires that I don’t think would be hits, but are fun to listen to.

    Sometimes we just want to hear our favorite artists have a good time with what they’re singing and what they believe in musically and enjoying what comes our way.

    Supporting someone when they ‘stretch their wings’ creatively is important, whether or not they make mistakes. That’s being a true lover of music. It doesn’t matter if you’re ‘Clearly a member of the fanclub or streeteam’ or not.

    Say what you want about Startin’ Fires, but Blake already has a #1 with more to come!

  9. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    That’s the problem I hear in this album, I don’t hear him creatively stretching his wings, but rather, the opposite. Saying that songs won’t be a hit but are fun to listen to isn’t exactly digging deep into an artist’s work.

  10. KellyNo Gravatar says:

    I’m not quite sure that Blake wants listeners to have to “dig deep” into his work when listening to this album. I think to him it’s more about the fans enjoying the songs with him while he sings them.

  11. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Kelly,

    I’m sure you’re right. I’m just not good at doing that. I like music that’s fun as much as the next person, but I tend to gravitate toward music that does something for me beyond the fun factor as well, which even includes more than “deep” lyrics.

  12. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    As a clarification, when I say digging deeper, I’m not meaning that the music necessarily has to be deep, I’m just meaning that it (both the music and content) has to resonate with me on more than a surface level in order for it to stick with me.

  13. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    Can I just say that it’s so refreshing to hear from a street team/group of hardcore fans who maintain a little respect toward others even as they disagree? Seriously, kudos, Blake fans. Y’all are classier than many (not gonna name names), and it speaks well of Blake and his music that he attracts fans like you.

    That said, I agree with Lynn. I think Blake has one of the best male voices in modern country and he seems to have a great personality, but this song is just boring and doesn’t show off either of those strengths.

  14. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I will echo Dan’s positive sentiments toward Blake Shelton’s BSers. Thanks for keeping it classy.

  15. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar says:

    LOL @ Alan Jackson. I meant to change it to Toby Keith, and just did so.

    To BS fans: I’m a huge fan (I tried to emphasize that!) and I hate to criticize, but Blake is capable of such better stuff. This isn’t remotely in the same league as “Austin” or “Ol’ Red.” I even liked “Home” waaay better than this single.

    I will add that I didn’t like “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” when it was released, but I did like it when I heard it live. In a way, that just emphasizes my point that his producers aren’t capturing him as well as they should.

  16. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    This positive concert review, also written by Lynn, might make you guys feel a little better.

  17. Matt B.No Gravatar says:

    But, but but he’s got 5 number ones! And that song is “stretching” cause it has a sitar on it! See, that’s creative…oh, wait, Those fanbots aren’t Blake Shelton fans…

  18. Martin in NYNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t love this song the way that I really love “She Wouldn’t Be Gone”. I think “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” is interesting, effective, and a bit risky. I applaud Blake Shelton for that one. This one is just okay.

    However, I often cut Blake Shelton a lot of slack because I like his voice and cool delivery so much.

    When compared to a lot of other male vocalists out there, including the often lauded and dull Brad Paisley, I think he is a cut above.

    If Blake ever finds material as good as his voice, he could become one of the most influential on the scene. I believe that he is the real deal.

  19. Kim SNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Lynn for the review even though I don’t totally agree with it. Granted, I am a BSer and am partial to whatever Blake sings but everything can’t be like Ol Red. There were other songs on Startin Fires that could have been released as his next single but I believe that Blake likes to keep the public guessing as to what his next move will be. I support whatever he does because the bottom line is he has a wonderful voice and I think he is “stretching his wings” if you compare “Startin Fires” with his first album, “The Dreamer”. I do feel that “I’ll Just Hold On” will be another #1.

  20. Crazy ConnieNo Gravatar says:

    Awwww, I got a little choked up at the kudos for the BSers. Thank you very much! All of us try very hard to be constructive when we venture out onto the review pages. We’ve seen what happens with other artist’s fans, and we don’t want what WE say to have a negative impact on what ‘casual listeners’ may think of Blake. I think that the way fans act is a reflection on the artist, somehow. I may be wrong, but Blake has never been anything but gracious to me, personally, and anyone that has ever been WITH me when I have caught him offguard at a restaurant before a show, or backstage on “his” time (not at a meet & greet). I am only speaking for myself, but I think I owe it to Blake to not be catty on public boards, although at times, it is a hard thing to do!

    Thank you guys for recognizing that!!!

  21. PatNo Gravatar says:

    Blake is a phenominal live singer. He needs no pitch correctors or overdubbing tracks to fall back on. I’ve decided that’s why he hasn’t been nominated for an award, actually….they don’t want to put him on the same stage with the lackluster live singing that is prominent in the awards shows today. (yes, tongue was in cheek, but as they say, there is truth in humor!)
    The label, in my opinion, has yet to really, truly harness his vocal talent & personal charisma – overall talent potential – in cd’s &/or videos or in their PR for that matter.

    When the stars align and everyone gets it right — step back because it’s going to be something to behold.

    Meanwhile, he’ll keep chugging out chart topping songs and creating a fan base one listener at a time.

  22. sheilaNo Gravatar says:

    everybody has their own opinion and everybody’s taste is different, when i first listened to the album, ‘I’ll just hold on’ was my favorite and it is still the one i push replay on over and over and over. It thrilled me when I found out it was released as a single.

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