Blake Shelton is holding almost nothing back.
In wide-ranging new interview, the country singer, 40, is opening up more than ever about his split from Miranda Lambert – and how current girlfriend Gwen Stefani "saved my life."
Taking a cue from his latest album, If I'm Honest, the Oklahoma native doesn't argue with an interviewer who asks whether the track "She's Got a Way with Words," which addresses a lover who lied and cheated, refers to his ex.
"When we recorded the vocals for some of these songs, I was only six months removed from when all the crap went down," Shelton tells Billboard for its latest cover story. "When you have a broken heart – at least, when I do – you got to get it out of your system. You want people to sympathise with you. I was at rock bottom, in the middle of hell."
Shelton and Lambert, once considered the king and queen of country, shocked fans when they announced their split last July after four years of marriage.
Shelton says the end of the marriage had a huge impact on the album, explaining that "you can learn some facts of my divorce. Maybe not specifics, but you can get a general idea about it."
But there is a silver lining there as well – in the form of current girlfriend Stefani.
"It is my divorce record, but maybe even more than that, it's my happy, falling-in-love record too," he says.
Shelton and Stefani met as coaches on The Voice, and Shelton says they barely knew one another when she joined the NBC show in season seven shortly after giving birth to son Apollo.
But things changed dramatically when she returned for season 9 and she learned of his shocking split.
"I won't forget that day," he says. "I looked over at Gwen – who I didn't really know – and she had these huge tears in her eyes. I thought, 'Wow, she feels super bad for me!' "
What he (and the world) did not know at the time was that she was in the process of separating from husband Gavin Rossdale after two decades together. After Stefani opened up about her split, the bond began – and quickly grew.
"It went from that, to checking in on each other once a week through email – 'This s--- happened to me, what happened to you?' – to maybe three times a week, then every day, to 'Hey, here's my phone number if you ever want to text.' Next thing I know, I wake up and she's all I care about, and I'm wondering if she feels the same about me," he says.
Now, Shelton declares that Stefani "saved my life."
"Who else on earth could understand going through a high-profile divorce from another musician?" he says. "You can't even imagine the similarities in our divorces."