Country star Blake Shelton isn’t known for holding back — and in the past week leading up to the debut of his new album “If I’m Honest,” he’s been candid about his motivation for the record, which chronicles the past year of his life. Basically, since others (i.e. the tabloids) are “cashing in” on his personal business, as he said on the “Today” show, he figures he may as well get some of that action.

It’s a shrewd, well-worn strategy in the entertainment industry, and Shelton is taking full advantage. After all, anyone with a cursory knowledge of the celebrity world knows “the past year” is referring to his divorce: He and Miranda Lambert — the Nashville golden couple who raked in huge music sales and award show trophies — split last July after four years of marriage. The break-up was a shock to many, but even more surprising were the cozy pictures a few months later of Shelton and Gwen Stefani, the No Doubt singer and his co-star on NBC’s singing competition “The Voice.”

Shelton and Stefani have been a celebrity gossip magnet ever since, whether they’re kissing in flirty videos or “caught” FaceTiming by the paparazzi. Shelton makes no secret of his disdain for the tabloids and claims to dislike the attention. But as he promotes his album, he’s openly discussing his relationship and dancing around the topic of his divorce, and that gives tacit permission for the media to do the same.

Hmmmm. With all the rumors flying back and forth about the cause of the Shelton-Lambert break-up, some listeners will have a field day parsing these lyrics.

Later, he gets into the more heavy emotional (but still vague) toll of his year in “Savior’s Shadow.” He explained during the iHeartMedia event that the gospel song (“I’m standing in my savior’s shadow, He is watching over me”) came to him in a dream last April. When he woke up, he sang some lyrics into his phone and saved them. “As last summer started unfolding, that song stayed in my head,” he said. Shelton added that things in his life got bad, and then worse, and it “became obvious they were not going to get better.” He finished the song when the summer ended, after his break-up, aided by songwriters Jessi Alexander and Jon Randall.

As for the rest, Shelton has called the album a “timeline” in interviews — and for the most part, it does feel that way. The record kicks off with a standard feel-good party song, then goes into the aforementioned angry one, and is followed up by two wistful tracks — “Bet You Still Think of Me” and “Every Time I Hear That Song” — about missing good times with someone you used to love. “You were always wild and free/I know we couldn’t hold on forever but baby, I bet you still think about me,” Shelton challenges his ex on the former.

Then, just as in real life, the album swings into revenge hook-up territory with “Came Here to Forget,” Shelton’s new single that flew up the iTunes charts, about two strangers indulging in a boozy night to get over their exes. That sets off a string of songs about falling head over heels into new relationship — a bit tentative at first, then completely, blissfully, annoyingly happy. In other words, it sounds like a complete love letter to Stefani.

It might not be surprising that many songs on the album are dedicated to new love, seeing as Shelton’s new mantra is “Gwen saved my life last year.” There’s “Go Ahead and Break My Heart,” a duet Shelton co-wrote with Stefani, which he said was an effort to impress her when they started bonding last fall after their respective marriages ended. (Stefani split from her ex-husband, Gavin Rossdale, a month after Shelton and Lambert parted ways.) After a couple cutesy performances of the song so far on “The Voice” and at the iHeartMedia event, the couple is scheduled to perform it again at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday.

The song, which Shelton swears is true to life, covers the careful steps of starting a new relationship. “The first thing that comes in your mind is, ‘Golly, I just got out of a relationship. Do I really want to jump right into this again? And, can I even trust you? Are we going to do this right?'” Shelton told The Tennessean. “Coming out of our situations, we both had trouble letting our walls down and we both had trust issues.”

The songwriting effort worked out well. A few weeks later, minutes before the Country Music Association Awards (where Shelton and Lambert were both in attendance), Shelton’s publicist released a statement saying that he and Stefani were officially dating. The rest is history — and now, people can finally try to fill in the gaps themselves with these songs.

Read more: