Blake Shelton veered toward the somnolent on the quite pleasing Bringing Back the Sunshine so it's not entirely surprising its 2016 sequel, If I'm Honest, is a bit crisper and livelier. Some of this brightening in attitude may be due to him lightening his load following a much-publicized 2015 divorce from singer Miranda Lambert – certainly the title suggests it's time for the singer to get down to what's real – but the electronic sheen and good times also feel like a reaction to Shelton sliding too deeply into softness. If If I'm Honest is indeed a divorce album, it's a Back in the High Life, not a Blood on the Tracks: Shelton is seizing the day, embracing his new lease on life with renewed vigor and a new love, who just happens to stop by to sing "Go Ahead and Break My Heart." Gwen Stefani's presence offers a reminder that Shelton stars on the televised singing competition The Voice, and If I'm Honest is targeted more at the mainstream audience attracted by the show than country radio proper.
From the classic blues of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey to female country blues pioneers Memphis Minnie and Geeshie Wiley, this Rough Guide explores the hugely significant and often overlooked role that women have played in the story of the blues. 'The fact that this release brings attention to this overlooked category is well beyond overdue'.