By Vernell Hackett
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Country music singer Blake Shelton has never been one to shy away from his feelings, so when it came to recording his new album he sought out songs that reflected his current state of mind.
Life, he says, is "pretty awesome."
"It's all where I am in my life right now. I'm very content with my life. I'll be happy if it stays like this for a long time," Shelton, 36, told Reuters of his new album "Based on a True Story..."
After some 10 years in country music, Shelton's popularity has surged in his two years as a judge on NBC's "The Voice" singing contest, which is seen by about 13 million U.S. viewers a week.
The new album's first single, "Sure Be Cool If You Did," released in January, has already topped the U.S. country chart. "Based on a True Story...," released to coincide with the return of "The Voice" this week, is expected to debut near the top of next week's album chart.
"I didn't want to do any sad songs, damn it, but this is a country album so you have to do a couple," said Shelton.
"I had those years where I made those kinds of records and something will happen one of these days and it will be a part of my music again. But right now everything is pretty awesome," he added.
Shelton, 36, is the latest country star to break into the mainstream. His 2011 album "Red River Blue," reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200, buoyed in part by the singer's laid-back, fun-loving role on the TV show.
On the new album, Shelton, who forms a country music power couple with singer-wife Miranda Lambert, sings about tried-and-true country themes, including good ol' boys, picking up girls, being in love, losing the love of his life and bad jobs.
"The album is the story of my life from start to finish and I thought 'That's what we should call it because it is based on a true story,'" Shelton said.
The singer, who won the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year in 2012, said he wants people to get to know his personality through his music and "The Voice."
"I guess if doing what I did got me that award, I better keep being that guy," said Shelton, whose biggest hits include 2009's "Hillbilly Bone" and 2004's "Some Beach."
Shelton has emerged as the face of the country music industry on "The Voice," in which he and three other judges compete with each other to mentor rising singers and help them win a record deal.
"I've always felt a responsibility to make sure that every step along the way is a good one for our industry," he said. "I'm proud to be that person on 'The Voice' that represents country music."
Shelton will be back in the country music spotlight on April 7 as host for the third consecutive year of the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.
(Reporting by Vernell Hackett, editing by Eric Kelsey, Jill Serjeant and Jackie Frank)