With her fourth album « Blown Away », Carrie Underwood has managed to stay true to herself while adding new and arresting ingredients to the mix. Up to now, she'd played it rather safe since her American Idol crowning; the results have been three great country-pop albums that sold in the millions ("Some Hearts", "Carnival Ride" and "Play On"), generated more hit singles than any other American Idol (eleven of which have peaked at the top of the country singles chart), sold-out tours and countless music awards. Clearly, at this point, it was time to take a few chances... and although her fans won't feel estranged while listening to this album, she has risen to the challenge.
As a matter of fact, the album opens up with a string of five songs that have little to do with her past recordings. The lyrics of "Good girl", the debut single, are strikingly similar to those of her smash hit "Cowboy Casanova"; musically, however, it's her hardest-rocking song so far. The pulsating title track and the smoldering "Two Black Cadillacs" feature the kind of storytelling that Carrie is great at, all the while stretching her wings; musically speaking, these two songs don't sound like anything she's done before, laying strings, back vocals and keyboards over melodies that sound like nothing you usually hear on country radio. "See You Again" is a soaring pop-rock ode about holding on to one's most basic beliefs, while "Do You Think About Me?" is a sweet and melodic pop song that would sound great on any top 40 radio. The rest of the album finds Carrie covering more familiar ground, from the lovely country ballads that she excels at ("Forever Changed", "Good in Goodbye", "Thank God for Hometowns", "Wine After Whiskey") to the high-energy stompers ("Cupid's Got A Shotgun", "Leave Love Alone") and melodic, uplifting midtempo numbers ("Who Are You", "One Way Ticket", "Nobody Ever Told You"). Her voice is just as powerful as ever, but she shows great restrain and nuance on some of these songs, to great effect.
Country music purists will probably complain about these songs not sounding "country" enough. While this criticism is certainly valid as far as the opening sequence goes, one has to admit that Carrie's formula was in danger of becoming stale and that she needed to cover new territory to avoid getting stuck in a creative vacuum. Whether or not this goes well with country music radio remains to be seen, but so far so good ("Good Girl" is headed for the top spot of Bilboard's Country Songs chart as I'm writing this review). And although I'll always have a soft spot for the country side of Underwood's music, one can't put her down for taking some chances.
on May 2, 2012
Carrie Underwood''s fourth album "'Blown Away"' is rock solid from beginning to end. It is a complete triumph and a huge leap forward for Carrie on all fronts. Vocally, lyrically and creatively, this is the emergence of Carrie Underwood 2.0 - The Artist.
Contained within its 14 diverse tracks are styles ranging from classic country ('Wine After Whiskey', 'Cupid's Got a Shotgun') to calypso ('One Way Ticket') to progressive country ('Blown Away', 'Two Black Cadillacs) all handled with vocal aplomb by Carrie, whose star has never shone brighter.
Previous albums 'Some Hearts', 'Carnival Ride' and 'Play On' are chock full of hits, but some songs seemed a bit too fussed over and formulaic. Many of the lesser cuts had a girlishness about them, with subject matters seemingly pulled from the pages of teen diaries. No more.
'Blown Away' is the work of a mature young woman. Throughout the album, Carrie is confident, completely in command and firing on all cylinders. With vivid lyrics and expansive production by long-time producer Mark Bright, 'Blown Away' has the goods to go the distance, taking down everything in its path on its march to glory at the CMAs, ACMs and Grammys, where it will most definitely represent country music as an Album of the Year nominee.
Two tracks in particular stand head and shoulders above the pack: "'Two Black Cadillacs'" and "'Wine After Whiskey"', both co-written by Underwood. The former tells the tale of a wife and mistress conspiring to do away with the man who betrayed them both, while the latter is a classic country weeper about a new relationship that pales in comparison to what came before. Against a cinematic backdrop of tinkling piano, rolling drums and edgy strings, Carrie brings '"Cadillac"' to life, infusing the chorus with gospel-tinged vocals: "''and the preacher said he was a good man, and his brother said he was a good friend".'' Tense, muscular and assured, Carrie's delivery is stellar. This is a shining example of progressive country music. "'Wine After Whiskey"' is pure heartbreak in the classic country tradition. Carrie effortlessly conveys the emptiness felt by a lover who discovers her new flame can't possibly compare to the one true love that has left and moved on. Carrie's vocal is tender and nuanced during the verses, crying out in hurtful longing during the heartbreaking chorus: '"Once you've tasted a love so strong, you can't go back and you can't settle on anything less, and that's what gets me, it's like having Wine After Whiskey".'
"'Blown Away"' contains other strong cuts like the dramatic title track, where Carrie's vocal matches the power of the twister at the center of a tale about a daughter's revenge on a drunken, abusive father. '"Cupid''s Got a Shotgun"', a fast-paced redneck rave-up fits Underwood like a glove as she sings of being pursued by a suitor armed with a "'sawed-off double-barrel, trigger-happy as can be".' A lively fiddle solo is followed by the twangy guitar runs of guest Brad Paisley. "'One Way Ticket'" is a breezy, calypso-styled ditty where Carrie substitutes steel drums with intentionally off-key whistling. It's a hoot, and one of the few moments of levity on the album. In song after song, Underwood''s vocals are warm, natural and unforced. Having listened to Adele last year, she's learned to reign in her tendency to unleash the glory notes, opting instead for restraint, subtlety and vocal detail, best exemplified in the spare and beautiful "'Forever Changed".
A new chapter in Carrie Underwood''s career is beginning. With international tours planned, the world will finally hear what many in North America have always known: Carrie is the finest singer of our generation. Let there be no doubt.
on May 8, 2012
Carrie's new album is definitely among her best, can't decide between Some Hearts and this one. The lyrics and music are quite fantastic, not a drastic departure from her previous albums but her voice is much crisper and lyrics's subject matter are more diverse. The singles released so far are good of course but attention needs to be drawn to 1) Two Black Cadillacs which tells a great story with a good twist and the singing on the track is just top notch and 2) One Way Ticket as it's not what one would expect in a country-pop album but the happy-go-lucky tune Jack Johnson is know for - let me tell you it works quite great and a refreshing song coming from her. The pacing of the album is to my personal liking, one moment your listening to the fast paced Cupid's Got A Shotgun then you're surprised with the beautiful Wine After Whiskey. It truly is a joy to have a singer whose albums don't let down and whose growth as an artist is evident with each release.