Review: Carrie Underwood, “Temporary Home”

There’s a fascinating, frustrating divide between Underwood’s ability to conjure and express her emotion. It’s fascinating because when the divide comes down, the result is magic – but frustrating because it takes some digging around to find these moments of commanding personal conviction, which typically come in the form of live performances. As ironic though it may be considering her mass-exposed start on Idol, it often feels like the only way to really know what Underwood is all about is to pursue her.

But Play On works to breaks this pattern, as best illustrated by “Temporary Home,” Underwood’s most emotionally-invested studio recording to date. Using the familiar three-prong story structure, the song visits three characters that are each holding out hope for a better tomorrow, and culminates poignantly in the religious belief that we are just passing through earth on our way to a permanent home in heaven. Lyrically, the characters are more symbolic than they are three-dimensional, but Underwood compensates by layering the broad strokes of hope in each story with a range of tangible emotions: fear, pain, peace and doubt. Her vocal interpretation is stunningly precise, most notably on the resolve in the teenage mom’s proclamation (“someday we’ll find our place here in this world”), and the falter in the dying elderly man’s reassurance (“I’m not afraid because I know…”).

Ultimately, “Temporary Home” acts as a story of shared humanity – and here’s the thing: for the first time in Underwood’s career, it feels like her story. It’s not the narrative that powers this song, but the depth and strength of her personal conviction. From the inclusion of neglected members of society to the intricate shades of fully-invested emotion to the telling last line –“this is our temporary home”–, the song provides a glimpse at the person behind the artist. It’s a refreshing departure from a catalogue of superbly interpreted but somewhat impersonal singles, and hopefully a sign of an artist who’s learned that your music becomes that much richer when you’re willing to share yourself with it.

Photo by Buffy Burton

Written by Luke Laird, Zac Maloy & Carrie Underwood

Grade: A-

Listen: Temporary Home

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21 Comments

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21 Responses to Review: Carrie Underwood, “Temporary Home”

  1. JonNo Gravatar

    I’ve always felt like Underwood is one of those artists that are better as live vocalists, compared to the vocals that you hear on her CDs.

  2. labNo Gravatar

    Fantastic review!!! “Summa Cum Laude” Award!!!

    “Temporary Home” is all about our “JOURNEY” in our lives to our final destination, “EVERLASTING LIFE” at the “ETERNAL KINGDOM” from our temporary home, “EARTH” …… God saves humanity by providing us “EVERLASTING LIFE” at the “ETERNAL KINGDOM”. We have “UPS” and “DOWNS” in this “JOURNEY” and God will always be with us and saves us if we always turn to God’s Word.

    Humanity needs “THIS CONCEPT OF A SONG” from its present condition since majority of humanity does not manifest its purpose of existence in their lives and there is in some sense, is lost. We were all made and created for God and life is all about letting God use you for his purpose. THEREFORE, IN OUR LIVES WE MUST TURN TO GOD’S WORD.!!!

  3. AljidNo Gravatar

    I couldn’t help but cry after hearing this song for the first time. It’s just plain awesome!

  4. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    I honestly expected to like this song a lot less than it turns out that I do. I could live without the painfully predictable last verse, which keeps me from truly embracing the song, but I think the production and the first two verses are very nice. Underwood sounds very connected to the song as well. Moreover, this is a very compelling review that made me go back and give this song a second listen.

  5. ZackNo Gravatar

    I got chills from this song.
    One of the few I really liked from Play On, I actually gave it an A+ because I felt it was Underwood’s best co-write and vocal thus far.

  6. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    This is a good’un. Songs like this hit my sweet spot anyway, but combine it with that voice, and I’m a happy man.

  7. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    Wonderful review, first of all. I can’t get into the song completely because I do find the characters kind of hollow and the structure ridiculously predictable, as Leeann said. But this is certainly Underwood’s most emotionally invested performance I’ve heard, and she injects far more spirit into the characters the song itself does. It’s even less nasal-sounding, though she still has a ways to go with that in my opinion. But this is promising to me.

  8. I think her emotion in that last verse distracts me from the predictability, but I realize that those who follow Carrie probably feel that emotion more deeply than those who don’t. There’s a bit of back story on the last verse and her inability to get through it in the studio, and it’s hard for me to get that out of my head when I hear the song. But I agree with Dan – this is promising, if nothing else.

  9. KNo Gravatar

    You absolutly nailed this review, Tara. This is how I’ve felt about the song from the very first listen. Critics can complain that the song is predictable and mediocre, but I think her emotion takes TH to a whole new level.

    It’s obvious from hearing Carrie talk about the song that it meams so much to her, and it’s most evident in hearing her perform it live. In every live setting, you can feel her emotion, see it her face, hear it in the words. As a long time Carrie fan, I’ve always felt she is better at expressing emotions when performing live than in a studio recording. This song has now shown that she csn do magical things when she is connected to a song like “Temporary Home.”

  10. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar

    I agree about the disconnect; however I really like this song – a solid B to B+ in my book

  11. Cory DeSteinNo Gravatar

    Seems like it belongs on a Martina McBride album

  12. GalPalNo Gravatar

    wonderful song-wonderful singer

  13. This song honestly gives me the chills. She is much better live.

  14. TomNo Gravatar

    …i dislike this song as much as i like her “i told you so”, which is one of the finest vocal performances in country music for quite some time.

  15. JoJoNo Gravatar

    Love this song!! Definitely song of the year worthy

  16. CJNo Gravatar

    Was wondering if you will also give a review of the official music video? Thanks

  17. Stephen - MainstreamNo Gravatar

    The video is brilliant and all over youtube. Hopefully we’ll get a review.

  18. JoJoNo Gravatar

    I agree with Stephen. The video is brilliant!!

  19. Yo, that’s what’s up trutuhflly.

  20. psuash7No Gravatar

    Everytime I hear this song both over the speakes and in my head, I can’t help but cry. I work on a daily basis with children in foster care. This song resonates why I do what I do and relate all too well to the first verse, which corresponds to the second verse as sometimes those situations resulkt int the first verse’s situation. The last verse corresponds with my beliefs with death and being on a death bed knowing it is time to go.

    I have never felt such strong emotions to any other song that the mere thought of the song brings tears to my eyes each and everytime.

    My hope for the chidlren in our world is for more people to know the first verse is sooo truthful and are touched by it to do something about it for the good of humankind and give these children a real home and not just a temporary one.

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