Sensitive, sweet and insightful—could this be the same Blake Shelton who has charged to the head of country music’s upper ranks thanks to famously obnoxious tweets and a newly-discovered affinity for redneck party anthems?
It could, and it is. And it’s a welcome reminder that Shelton can be a deft and compelling singer, not just a hillbilly shouter. Co-written by Earl Bud Lee (“Friends in Low Places”) and John Wiggins (“Tequila Makes Her Cloths Fall Off”), “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” is a smooth and satisfying ballad with an easygoing, retro vibe.
An intimate rumination on the mystery of a beautiful, graceful woman, Shelton delivers the song’s sensual lyrics with a combination of intrigue and awe. There’s even a hint of desperate longing in his voice when he sings, “Who are you when I’m not around? When the door is locked and the shades are down?/Do you listen to your music quietly?/And when it feels just right are you thinking of me?”
He wants to know her more completely. He wants to connect with her emotionally, not just physically. And in that sense, this is most certainly not ‘all about tonight’ nor is it a tale of simple infatuation; this song is about the dedication and genuine affection that propels its questions. Pair that with Shelton’s deep, warm voice and the result is an affecting love song sure to melt hearts.
Love or hate the direction he’s taken with many of his recent up-tempos, you can’t say that Shelton hasn’t worked hard to shake up his catalog. He’s taken risks, and this is one—so much sexier and more personal than anything he’s ever done.