Startin' Fires

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His fifth album finds Blake doing a better job than ever of uniting the disparate sides of his personality—the irrepressible jokester (“Some Beach,” “Ol’ Red”) as well as the sincere balladeer (“The Baby,” “Home”). Blake keeps from going too far in either of those directions, and in doing so he finds himself pushing into some new areas with an audible ease and confidence. The raw desperation of the hit “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” is a pleasant surprise, but so are the loping sunniness of “Never Lovin’ You” and the 1970s-style lover-man grooves of “This Is Gonna Take All Night.”

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