Carrie Underwood Underwhelms On "Blown Away"
When I first listened to Carrie Underwood's 4th studio album "Blown Away," I was anything but. It is apparent that this American Idol winner tried to step out of her comfort zone on her new record, but what resulted was something quite unoriginal and underwhelming.
The first three tracks on the album are easily the strongest, save for "Wine after Whiskey," a traditional country ballad that sits second to last. She opens with "Good Girl," her first single off "Blown Away," and currently number three on the iTunes Country chart. Through those revving country electric guitar strums, Underwood warns a naive girl about a guy who isn't all what he seems to be ("Cowboy Casanova" sideways).
The title track, "Blown Away," is a young girl's song of vengeance against her abusive, alcoholic father "There's not enough rain in Oklahoma/To wash the sins out of that house." Pretty dark, yet good prevails in the end. "Two Black Cadillacs" is another dark tale about a man's wife and mistress at his funeral; she sings, "And the preacher said he was a good man/and his brother said he was a good friend/but the women in the two black veils didn't bother to cry." Is this what happens if he didn't listen to her warnings in "Before He Cheats"?
The album continues as a semblance of songs strung together, and is rather bland. "One Way Ticket" is Underwood's attempt at a Kenny Chesney or Jimmy Buffet beach song; sort of like a woman's "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere." Though the style is fun, the relaxed vibe does not mesh well with Underwood's instantly recognizably strong vocals. The song tries too hard.
Underwood strives to be a storyteller (think Martina rather than Taylor), but her songs aren't quite as personal. Though she co-wrote 8 of the 14 tracks on "Blown Away," they fail to allow her fans to relate and feel connected with her, something that her peers easily achieve.
Since her transformation from small town American Idol winner to pop country star, songs like "Good Girl" and "Black Cadillacs" seem to fit her persona better than more heart-felt ones like "Thank God for Hometowns," a sweet song about small towns, and "Forever Changed," a ballad about a woman's life and her struggle with Alzheimer's. They almost seem contrived; her relatability and compassion has faded.
"Blown Away" is no doubt a darker album than 2007's wildly successful "Carnival Ride." This heavily pop-influenced country album shows breadth without depth. Underwood has grown in terms of style and range, but everything seems recycled. What saves her is that incredibly strong and beautiful voice. Though there are some tracks to take away from this album, it won't "blow fans away" like it should.
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