Album Review: Carrie Underwood, Blown Away

Carrie Underwood
Blown Away

At this point, it’s easy to forget that Carrie Underwood first kicked off her country music career as an American Idol graduate.  Besides being one of country music’s most technically gifted female vocalists, she’s gone on to become one of its strongest commercial forces, with a seven-year-long string of Top-2 hit singles, not to mention albums that consistently sell like hotcakes.  But a noteworthy gap has often been seen between the impressiveness of Underwood’s talent and success and the quality of her material. In terms of lyrics and production, at least, Underwood’s new album Blown Away finds her taking steps forward that are small, but steps forward nonetheless.

As hinted at by the gloomy cover image, Underwood’s fourth album finds her taking on some notably darker, more serious song material than on her previous albums.  After leading off with the wildly catchy Shania Twain-esque debut single “Good Girl,” the album quickly takes a turn for deadly serious territory.  The title track tells of a young woman taking revenge on her abusive alcoholic father by hiding in the cellar when a tornado approaches their home, letting the house collapse on top of her father while he lies passed out on the floor.  Though it doesn’t quite reach the spine-tingling heights of Martina McBride’s similarly themed “Independence Day,” “Blown Away” is one of the most interesting and complex songs here, and though it could do without the gaudy vocal reverb effects, the arrangement lends the track an appropriately eerie feel.  As “Two Black Cadillacs” begins with a funeral scene, the listener is quickly pulled into the tale of two black veil-wearing women who share a dark secret.  The omission of some narrative details toward the end lessens the ultimate listener payoff, but “Two Black Cadillacs” likewise remains one of the album’s more striking and memorable cuts.  Indeed, Underwood is to be applauded for putting for the attempt to tackle more challenging lyrical material, as opposed to the predictable fare that tended to weigh down her previous releases.

Similarly, though the album often settles for the same pop-country sound that Underwood and producer Mark Bright have long favored, here there are several tweaks to the usual formula.  The prominent mandolin line on “Leave Love Alone” sounds different that anything Underwood has previously recorded, while the signature Brad Paisley guitar-shredding on “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun” turns an already fun song into a regular jam session.  The surprisingly sparse, primarily acoustic number “Do You Think About Me” benefits from added restraint both in production and vocal, which is effective in delivering the wistful lyric.  These production choices don’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, while some – such as the reggae flavorings of “One Way Ticket,” for example – may prove polarizing, but they are unexpected coming from Underwood.  Such willingness on the parts of Underwood and Bright to go for the occasional risk is refreshing.

Weighing in at a generous fourteen tracks, the album could have benefited from leaving off a few of its more forgettable cuts, and perhaps being condensed into a more consistently solid ten- or twelve-track collection instead.  Blown Away suffers most when it veers off into a shallow, feel-good thematic direction, which is particularly evident on the trite self-esteem booster “Nobody Ever Told You,” as well as the beachy Chesney-esque reggae of  “One Way Ticket” – the latter an obvious candidate for a summertime single release, with a music video that practically creates itself.  That’s not to say that such lyrical concepts are necessarily taboo, but these particular efforts lack the personality and strong hooks that are needed to make such efforts memorable.  The fact that power ballad “See You Again” was originally intended for The Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack is telling, as the vague, platitudinous lyric savors strongly of disposable soundtrack fare.  Cliché-laden album closer “Who Are You,” a surprising misfire of a composition from Shania Twain’s ex-husband/ ex-producer/ ex-songwriting-collaborator Robert John “Mutt” Lange,” is just a total bore.

That said, Underwood can be remarkably successful when she puts forth the earnest attempt to connect with her listeners on a relatable emotional level.  Though the title of “Thank God for Hometowns” raises a red flag, we are treated to a fully three-dimensional portrayal of the very best aspects of small-town living (“Small Town U.S.A.” it isn’t, thankfully), including the small-town camaraderie of close neighbors and friends, while the conversational tone lends both a personal feel and a welcome sense of structure to the lyric.  The two finest tracks are “Good In Goodbye” and “Wine After Whiskey,” both ranking among Underwood’s strongest co-writes to date.  The former displays a level of maturity and clear-eyed insight as Underwood reflects on a difficult breakup that has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  The latter utilizes an effective metaphor of drinking wine after whiskey to illustrate how the narrator’s current lover pales in comparison to the one she lost.  Better still, Underwood displays notable growth as a lyrical interpreter on both of these songs, wisely sparing us the power notes, while adding to the emotional impact through her nuance and subtlety.

Though it’s not quite a wholly consistent project, and it does have its share of weak spots, Blown Away is an album that is brilliant at best, and bland at worst.  But what makes Blown Away a fascinating and ultimately satisfying collection is that it displays an artist willing to continually grow and challenge herself by experimenting with different sounds, musical styles, and lyrical themes.  In today’s music industry, it’s all too easy for an established superstar to settle for predictable, wheels-spinning material that furthers his or her primary marketing persona without moving forward artistically in any meaningful way.  Granted, Underwood’s attempts at branching out still result in occasional missteps, several of which are documented on this album.  Still, to see such a demonstration of a “What’s next?” artistic muse, particularly from a woman who can already out-sing most of her peers from the corner of her mouth, is an absolute joy to hear.  Here’s hoping her future efforts achieve greater consistency to go along with her ambition.

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88 Comments

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88 Responses to Album Review: Carrie Underwood, Blown Away

  1. MaryNo Gravatar

    As a dyed-in-the-wool Carrie fan, I was waiting for this review, as I know you folks tell it like it is. I am happy that Carrie is branching out, and yes, there are a few missteps. Probably the most surprisingly disappointing track on the album is Mutt Lange’s contribution. Frankly I expected a better song from him as a writer, although Carrie sings it well. Tracks I’d like to see released as singles (other than the already-released Good Girl, are Blown Away, Two Black Cadillacs, One Way Ticket (obvious summer song), Cupid’s Got A Shotgun and Wine After Whiskey (an unbelievably beautiful song which Carrie could have oversung … but didn’t). All in all I’m pleased with her efforts here.

  2. LynnNo Gravatar

    Thank you for this wonderfully written review. This album in my opinion is a vast improvement over her previous one, Play On, which proved to be uneven. I wished they could have disposed of tracks such as Nobody Ever Told You, Who Are You, and See You Again. Otherwise, a good album I’d say. I noted from reviews from other publications that One Way Ticket seems to have taken a severe beating lol. As you said, the song may be polarizing, but I enjoy it for what it is, a goofy carefree song.

    I’m curious as to how well Blown Away the song will be received should they release it as a single.

  3. Cha ChoNo Gravatar

    carrie looks SICKENING on that album cover! and she is serving up some country realness!

  4. LynnNo Gravatar

    @Cha Cho – Funny, I thought this is an album review, not an album COVER ART review.

  5. Jake JNo Gravatar

    This is a good unbiased review! I applaud Carrie for taking some risks here (and for the standout tracks paying off) but there is a lot of filler on this album that I could do without out. This album’s production is really reminding me of the country-pop that was popular back when ShaniaTtwain and Faith Hill were in their hey-days in the late 90s, though this album is definitely not as fun as Come On Over or as charming as Faith’s 1998 album.

    I feel like the tracks from 5-9 really is what causes the album to be uneven. I know this album was a longer wait but I can’t help but feel I wish they would’ve waited a little longer and found some songs with better material that could match up to the first three standout tracks. I suspecting that Carrie’s label made her slap on some fluffier material to the album because they were worried it was going to be too dark for her fanbase. I don’t mean to sound disappointed at all because I can’t wait to hear songs like Blown Away and Good In Goodbye on radio; but I was hoping when she said the album would be darker that it would in the vein of Reba’s For My Broken Heart or in the vein of Martina’s early 90s albums.

  6. DaveNo Gravatar

    Love the review and agree. Blown Away the song and Two Black Cadillacs are truly standout tracks for me. Particularly Blown Away sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard. I give her and her team credit for finding such a stand out track and not being afraid to record such a stunning piece of music. I also love Wine after Whiskey and One Way Ticket is goofy but in a good catchy way.

  7. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar

    A lot of times I hear people say something like “Carrie records material that doesn’t live up to her talent.”

    And I agree. But the same could be said for most of the talented country stars. Listen to some album cuts that George Jones recorded, and they will make you cringe. Johnny Cash too has some awful, awful album cuts, and not just stuff from “Chicken in Black.” Willie Nelson will seemingly record any song, good or bad. George Strait’s albums generally avoid truly awful filler, but they tend to include at least 3 mediocre cuts. And that’s just the superstars.

    Moreover, Carrie’s singles seem no worse than the the singles of other artists with strong voices and much talent who consistently reach the top 5 on the radio charts.

    Not that this is a big deal to me. With music on CD or the Internet, its super easy to skip the tracks you don’t like. But why is this claim made about Carrie so often (Her talent is better than her material) when it seems to me that it should be equally often made about most country singers who have strong voices?

  8. Jake JNo Gravatar

    Sweetcheecks, I think I can figure out why a lot of people (including myself) ask for more from Carrie. I remember in an interview in the past two years (it might have been on GAC) where the interviewer said it already felt like she has been on the music scene a lot longer than just 4 years and IMO it does feel like she has been a stable for country music for more than the 7 years she is going on now. To give her more credit with this album I will say I think since she debuted with such strong songs with her Some Hearts album (“Wasted”, “Jesus, Take The Wheel”, “Before He Cheats”) she has proven that she can blow her contemporaries and even more seasoned veterans out of the water. When you look at the current crop of country artists it’s easy to expect, well to be blunt, complete crap from them because most of them have just proven to be country marketing gimmicks, Carrie has already proven she is the real deal. The downside to that is you get people saying they expect more from you.

    I also think sexism has something to do with it too but that’s a whole other discussion.

  9. MaryNo Gravatar

    I agree with Sweetcheeks. I was sitting here thinking of all the country albums released that have maybe 2, 3 or 4 good or at least decent songs and the rest is truly forgettable. Why is Carrie held to a higher standard just because she has the greatest voice many of us have ever heard? I’m grateful for the wonderful songs she has released on previous albums, look over the less-than-stellar songs, and move on. There are actually quite a few songs on previous albums that weren’t released as singles. One that comes to mind is ‘Someday When I Stop Loving You’. Oh how I wish that had been released as a single. On this album I’ll bet Wine Over Whiskey doesn’t make single status, yet it is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs on the album. Maybe it’s a ‘Voice Of God’ thing – if Carrie actually found songs that were worthy of her voice, our heads would explode … lol.

  10. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    Sweetcheeks makes a really good point, I think.

    The crux of the issue from my POV is that she just hasn’t recorded her share of “classics” to offset all the middling stuff. Cash, Jones, Nelson and Strait all have some really dazzling career singles (and in a few cases, albums) to their name, so you forgive their filler (particularly from a retrospective standpoint, where the kind of cherry-picking Sweetcheeks mentions is even easier). For me, Carrie’s knockout singles begin and end at “Before He Cheats” (though “Wasted” and “Good Girl” are solid) – the others feel too safe/calculated for me, and I’m guessing for many of her other “critics.” But she’s so talented and has been so successful with her material that those “critics” keep waiting. That makes her a different case than someone like Rascal Flatts, who do well with mediocre stuff but who many critics don’t perceive as especially talented in the first place. In a weird way, that kind of act is less frustrating.

    All that said, I do think this album takes some cool chances, and echo Ben’s opinion that it would be even stronger if some of the safer filler had just been trimmed. My favorite tracks are “Good Girl,” “Blown Away” (though think it would be even cooler had it been written in first-person), “Do You Think About Me” and “Leave Love Alone.” Actually my main complaint is that there are surprisingly few hooky melodies.

  11. KentNo Gravatar

    The first three tracks, Good Girl, Blown Away, and Two Black Cadillacs are my favourite. After that I find the production is many cases is rather bland (with obvious exceptions such as Leave Love Alone and Cupid’s Got a Shotgun). That being said, I’ve only listened to the album once so far, so I imagine I will be able to distinguish individual songs more easily will repeated listens.

    Anyway, I like the drama in Blown Away. It truly is an interesting song. I also agree that Two Black Cadillacs is a bit of a cliffhanger, but ultimately it is another interesting song.

  12. Jon2000No Gravatar

    For me, Carrie’s knockout singles begin and end at “Before He Cheats” (though “Wasted” and “Good Girl” are solid) – the others feel too safe/calculated for me, and I’m guessing for many of her other “critics.”

    I see your point, Dan. But, IMO, some of Carrie’s best songs are not released as singles, and to whose fault is that I don’t really know. For me, some of her best songs were, aside from Before He Cheats, The Night Before Goes On (from her first album), Flat on the Floor (instead of Last Name) and Someday When I Stop Loving You (from the last one), which, in my humble opinion, had those been released would have joined Before He Cheats as her top-tier singles. And maybe this perceived gap between her material (at least the popular ones) and her talent wouldn’t be as wide as it is currently being seen now. But now, unfortunately, you have the stink of Undo It and Mama’s Song as singles.

    That said, I do think Blown Away contains much stronger material compared to Play On. And Carrie continues to experiment more with her vocal nuances as she grows more and more confident with her instrument. I really love Wine After Whiskey, and Do You Think About Me has a really nice hook.

    My pet peeve about the album though is still the same as it is in her previous albums: her “something for everyone” mantra. I believe that’s always been the main culprit for having a filler or two more than what the result could have been had she and her team just concentrated on getting the best songs, “everyone” be damned.

  13. picklesNo Gravatar

    I don’t really think that the prase “she can outsing any of her peers from the corner of her mouth” is really accurate. Sure she has a powerful voice, and can seen louder and more emphatically than most of them. But that’s not always what you need to hear in a song or singer, in fact, not very often do I want to hear that. I want to hear emotions and feeling and depth and connection, and in those areas for me at least, Underwood falls short of several of the other big current female singers. She has some good songs and some good performances but for the most part I find myself tiring of her new material pretty quickly.

  14. picklesNo Gravatar

    sorry for the above miss-types, I don’t know if that was me or some quirk that happened after I pressed the post key. Obviously I meant “Phrase” in plase of “prase” and “sing” in place of “seen”

  15. DiamondNo Gravatar

    My initial reaction, and I’ve only listened to the album twice, is that this material will wear a lot better than “Play On.” And like Dan, I am very surprised at the lack of strong hooks. That may hamper the singles. But “Blown Away” is the kind of track that may have real staying power on the charts, although I have no idea where it will peak. I can not imagine a lot of current country females recording that one.

  16. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    Actually my main complaint is that there are surprisingly few hooky melodies.

    That’s interesting, because I think I’ve realized that I enjoy this album mostly because of the combo of compelling melodies and vocal nuances (which is incidentally why I don’t enjoy “Blown Away”). But hooky and compelling are different, I suppose.

    I want to hear emotions and feeling and depth and connection, and in those areas for me at least, Underwood falls short of several of the other big current female singers.

    I find this album soulful in a way that I’ve not found any of her previous albums (as bodies of work). I just don’t hear the emotional disconnect that some people are hearing.

    My pet peeve about the album though is still the same as it is in her previous albums: her “something for everyone” mantra.

    I think the album lacks cohesion but not identity, if that makes sense. If Carrie were to put out an album that followed one course, I don’t think it would strike me as a Carrie album. Her problem is finding the best from each camp of style. “One Way Ticket” ain’t going to cut it.

  17. Jake JNo Gravatar

    After listening to “See You Again” and reading that some have said there is an emotional disconnect, at least with that song I can see why. When I listen to “Good in Goodbye” it doesn’t sound as forced, I believe her sincerity. With See You Again it sounds like she can’t completely relate to the lyrics, and I don’t know if that’s her fault or if the production of that song just doesn’t give her the space to really put emotion into the lyrics.

  18. jesse rNo Gravatar

    I think “Blown Away” the album is amazing just like all her work. She is the best singer in country music and can sing circle around that annoying immature Taylor swift. At least Carries music has real life problems she not skipping thru the park holding hand with bff. She’s amazing

  19. EvanNo Gravatar

    I get the feeling that “Who are You” took the least time to produce and was just thrown in so the album could have a worship song. It sounds pretty but the lyrics are so bland. The one line says, “Who are you, that loves as deep as I do?” Um, not to get all preachy, but isn’t it pretty brash to compare God’s love to her own? Maybe I’m missing something. I don’t want to judge Carrie’s intentions. All that said, this is my favorite album of her’s yet. Could someone explain what’s polarizing about “One Way Ticket?” It’s not a classic or anything but its fun and catchy and I would be more than happy for this to come on my radio driving down the road.

  20. White CleatsNo Gravatar

    Jesse R embodies everything I’ve come to dislike about Carrie’s fans.

  21. EvanNo Gravatar

    To jesse r, i hope no one else responds to your distasteful comment. I am so tired of fans of Carrie and Taylor tearing the other artist down. I personally am more of a Carrie fan but I appreciate Taylor’s talents. And as a Carrie fan it pains me to admit that Carrie fans seem meaner to Taylor than the other way around. It’s probably just jealousy because Taylor is obviously a huge international star. And for the record, it makes you look very insecure to the majority of people.

  22. Jon2000No Gravatar

    I think the album lacks cohesion but not identity, if that makes sense. If Carrie were to put out an album that followed one course, I don’t think it would strike me as a Carrie album.

    I hope I’m not misunderstanding what you mean, but do you mean that carrie’s identity in her albums (so far), is its lack of cohesion?

    What are your favorite songs on the album, Tara?

  23. Hey guys! Let me just catch up on some of this discussion.

    Why is Carrie held to a higher standard just because she has the greatest voice many of us have ever heard?

    I don’t think that saying Carrie’s material doesn’t always live up to her talent necessarily equates to holdering her to a higher standard. To me, bad material is bad material whether it’s sung by a great singer or a poor singer, but if the singer has shown little talent or potential to begin with, then the expectations might not have been so high to begin with.

    Carrie, on the other hand, possesses genuine talent, which means that she has it in her to make some excellent music if she can find the right songs for her voice, which in turn makes it frustrating when she uses her strong, powerful voice on middling material. (Agreed with all of Dan’s points on this subject)

    If one were to reward a mediocre singer for singing mediocre material while claiming that Underwood’s songs don’t live up to her talent, (and there may be some who do so) then that, to me, would be holding Underwood to a higher standard.

    I don’t really think that the prase “she can outsing any of her peers from the corner of her mouth” is really accurate. Sure she has a powerful voice, and can seen louder and more emphatically than most of them. But that’s not always what you need to hear in a song or singer, in fact, not very often do I want to hear that. I want to hear emotions and feeling and depth and connection, and in those areas for me at least, Underwood falls short of several of the other big current female singers.

    Just to be clear, that comment was referring primarily to Underwood’s technical gifts, and I did say “most” of her peers, not “all.” It was only meant to be a way of saying that she is one of the most technically gifted vocalists of her generation. I agree that she has at times fallen short as an interpretive singer, but I also think that some of the songs on this album show significant improvement, as Tara brought out.

    She is the best singer in country music and can sing circle around that annoying immature Taylor swift. At least Carries music has real life problems she not skipping thru the park holding hand with bff.

    AAAAAUUUUUUGGGHHH!!!!! That is all =)

  24. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    I hope I’m not misunderstanding what you mean, but do you mean that carrie’s identity in her albums (so far), is its lack of cohesion?

    Not necessarily. I think you can have a diverse yet cohesive album; I just don’t think she’s mastered that yet. To me, her identity is in her diversity and her ability to effectively embody each style. I find the idea of her making a completely traditional country album (or pop for that matter) artistically stifling, at least at this point in her career. In some recent interview, Mark Bright said that Carrie is eminently more musically complex than people give her credit for. I get that.

    What are your favorite songs on the album, Tara?

    “Two Black Cadillacs,” “Do You Think About Me,” “Good in Goodbye,” “Leave Love Alone” & “Wine After Whiskey” (my favorite). I like these five mostly for their sonic sparkle, though I think they’re all very well written.

  25. Jon2000No Gravatar

    “Two Black Cadillacs,” “Do You Think About Me,” “Good in Goodbye,” “Leave Love Alone” & “Wine After Whiskey” (my favorite). I like these five mostly for their sonic sparkle, though I think they’re all very well written.

    I’m surprised by how much I ended up liking Leave Love Alone because I didn’t care much for the demo. But Carrie just gave the song enough punch and the “I just can’t leave love alone” verse is quite hooky.

    I think her best vocal in the album is in Do You Think About Me. Her voice just sounded so rich.

  26. MaryNo Gravatar

    I am unashamed to admit that I am a diehard Carrie fan. Hearing some ‘fans’ bring up other artists in a negative fashion to bolster their ‘love’ of Carrie is getting pretty old, and makes the rest of us look bad. We can like our favorites without knocking others. So please, please, please … can we make this thread about Carrie and her music and her album and her talent without dissing other artists? PLEASE????

    That said, I am not so blind a fan that I can’t admit there are tracks on this album I don’t care for very much. I will instead focus on the tracks that I do love and be glad she is growing in her writing, singing and interpretive abilities.

  27. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    ^ Hail Mary!

    “At least Carries music has real life problems she not skipping thru the park holding hand with bff.”

    “LET HE WHO HAS NEVER SKIPPED THROUGH A PARK CAST THE FIRST ROCK (AT THINGS THAT SHINE)”

  28. TexasVetNo Gravatar

    Interesting EW review:

    Are you a Taylor or a Miranda? That’s Nashville’s version of the Jackie-vs.-Marilyn question. Either you’re a country-pop prom queen, plotting world domination in a heart-shaped diary (Ms. Swift), or you’re a honky-tonk rebel, aiming a deer-hunting bow at anyone standing in the way (Ms. Lambert).

    Carrie Underwood is a Taylor who’s dying to be a Miranda. True, she predates both stars, and with five Grammys, three multiplatinum albums, and an Idol win, she doesn’t need to worry about competing with either one. But she’s never been quite as sweet as Swift or quite as fiery as Lambert. Even on her best crazy-girl anthems (”Before He Cheats,” ”Last Name”), she sounds like she wants to tell Mama she’s sorry for what she’s done.

    That’s why it’s so exciting to hear Underwood indulge her dark side for real on Blown Away, her most stadium-rock-friendly album yet. Mocking her wholesome rep, it begins with the sassy, Joan Jett-wannabe first single ”Good Girl” and segues into two dramatic murder songs: On the power ballad ”Blown Away,” a child-abuse victim kills her father, and on the Southern gothic ”Two Black Cadillacs,” a married woman teams up with a mistress to kill the man who betrayed them both. (”Bye-bye!” chirps Underwood.) Now that she’s discovered shotgun feminism, the family-values stuff (like the pious ”Who Are You”) is a bore. She’s way livelier on the awesome twang-banger ”Cupid’s Got a Shotgun,” an ode to love that feels like target practice. When she’s a good girl, she’s very good — but Bad Carrie just sounds better. B+

    Best Tracks:
    An NRA-supporting fiddle shredder Cupid’s Got A Shotgun
    A first-love charmer Do You Think About Me

  29. “LET HE WHO HAS NEVER SKIPPED THROUGH A PARK CAST THE FIRST ROCK (AT THINGS THAT SHINE)”

    Bahahahaha!!! You so rock, Dan.

  30. Hahaha! Dan for the win!

    I promise I will listen to this album soon. Great review, Ben.

  31. MaryNo Gravatar

    OK EW … can we please just review the damn (sorry) album without comparing Carrie to everyone else? For love of all things holy … fans do it, reviewers do it. Can no one other than CU review an album without bringing up other artists in their comparisons. Stop comparing!!!!!! Aaaggghhh!!!!!

  32. Jake JNo Gravatar

    People will always compare. Sadly, it’s apart of our nature. I don’t mind some comparisons as long as everyone remembers that every artist/singer is their own separate individual.

  33. picklesNo Gravatar

    ah but CU did compare Carrie to other artists, albeit without naming names.

    Thanks for answering the point Ben but I don’t think you quite got what I was saying.

    Carrie does have a great technical singing ability, but in my humble opinion that doesn’t mean she outsings most of her peers. As I said on some songs she’s good, and I feel a connection, but on others there’s none. Just like with any singer out there; it depends on the mood of the listener and the intensity of the connection between the song and singer. Not everyone will connect with Carrie’s voice or her singing style, and for those who don’t she’s not the best female singer.

    A blanket statement of “Carrie is the best singer in country music” Or “Carrie is totally awesome and so-and-so is a stupid little girl who has no talent” (the gist of some commenters statements, not the CU staff) is one person’s opionion, not an actual verifiable truth.

    I’m not trying to be obnoxious or nit-picky tho I probably come across as both to some reading. I guess it all comes down to No artist can make a perfect album, and no reviewer can write a perfect review. An album is personal to the artist and the review is the personal opinions and outlook of the reviewer, some will love the album and artist while some hate both, but many times everyone hates the reviewer.

  34. LynnNo Gravatar

    Thank you Mary for that! I’m tired of fans going against each other.I’ve seen CU fans complaining each time about reviews comparing Carrie with the other female country artists, yet they do it themselves.

    Ben, do you think it will be a bit too risky to release Blown Away as a single? I would think of the 2 songs, Two Black Cadillacs is the safer choice. I’m curious as to how country radio will receive Blown Away if released as a single.

  35. LynnNo Gravatar

    Thank you Mary for that! I’m tired of fans going against each other.I’ve seen CU fans complaining about reviews comparing Carrie with the other female country artists, yet they do it themselves.

    Ben, do you think it will be a bit too risky to release Blown Away as a single? I would think of the 2 songs, Two Black Cadillacs is the safer choice. I’m curious as to how country radio will receive Blown Away if released as a single.

  36. Jon2000No Gravatar

    A blanket statement of “Carrie is the best singer in country music” Or “Carrie is totally awesome and so-and-so is a stupid little girl who has no talent” (the gist of some commenters statements, not the CU staff) is one person’s opionion, not an actual verifiable truth.

    I’m not trying to be obnoxious or nit-picky tho I probably come across as both to some reading. I guess it all comes down to No artist can make a perfect album, and no reviewer can write a perfect review. An album is personal to the artist and the review is the personal opinions and outlook of the reviewer, some will love the album and artist while some hate both, but many times everyone hates the reviewer.

    So I guess from now on every review should have a disclaimer of “In my opinion” before each and every sentence. I hope the CU staff remembers that from now on. ;)

  37. CelsoNo Gravatar

    I’m missing Kevin points here. Is he on vacation? I know he likes Carrie and I would like to know what he has to say about BA whether it’s a praise or a bash.

  38. JakeNo Gravatar

    All I’m gonna say is this huge step up from “Play O”n! and they have already made a music video for “Blown Away” so I’m guessing it’s the next single.

  39. I don’t mind comparisons in general, and I actually think they can be helpful in enhancing descriptions (as long as the music is still being assessed on its own merits), but I don’t like it when people build up one artist by tearing down another.

    @Pickles,

    Just to reiterate, my comment that Carrie can “outsing most of her peers” was referring to her technical ability – Sorry if it was worded poorly. Things such as her interpretive ability and her ability to connect with listeners are open to debate, but it’s fairly clear that Underwood possesses greater power and control than most of her contemporaries.

    Ben, do you think it will be a bit too risky to release Blown Away as a single? I would think of the 2 songs, Two Black Cadillacs is the safer choice. I’m curious as to how country radio will receive Blown Away if released as a single.

    I do think it would be somewhat risky, as the song is notably darker than the uplifting material that radio typically favors. (Same goes for “Two Black Cadillacs”) But then again… she’s Carrie Underwood. She can afford to take risks.

  40. DollyNo Gravatar

    Well the BA song has been the most downloaded song off the the album on Itunes so if that is any indication it seems people are liking the song. Also, I believe I saw where someone said on another message board that a radio station actually played Two Black Cadillacs today.

  41. PriscilaNo Gravatar

    This is, by far, Carrie’s best album. She displays versatility, lyrical adaptation, and vocal acrobatics like she never has before. I love it, I love her, and this album will be a real contender for awards shows.

  42. Yellow RoseNo Gravatar

    I find it quite disparaging to even mention other artists while in the process of reviewing another artist. But without wanting to bring up a major debate I will say it is SO infrequently done with male voices and so OFTEN done with female voices.

    She displays versatility, lyrical adaptation, and vocal acrobatics like she never has before.

    I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. I think the softer, subtle nuances in some of these songs on Blown Away are vocal magic. I am not one to believe that Carrie needs to belt out the ballads and stick with a “formulaic” approach. Carrie appears to play to the benefit of her fans that put her where she is today and that means she has included on this able the diversity that her fans look for, appreciate and applaud.

    Where’s Kevin? I would love to hear his take on Blown Away.

  43. Yellow RoseNo Gravatar

    Oops, I meant ALBUM not able.

  44. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar

    I think it depends on how one compares the artists. What I find inappropriate is “comparisons” that add little information other than a derogatory remark toward some artist (e.g., Carrie can sing, unlike Taylor who is can’t and is evil). What I do find helpful, though, is comparisons that might help me decide whether to listen to a particular album. For instance, if Easton Corbin sounds like George Strait, that is useful to me. If Rodney Atkins seems highly indebted to Tim McGraw, then, sure tell me and show me why. If the latest “Country Life” song is more interesting or less interesting than some previous “Country Life” tune, again, tell me about it. I like comparisons that help teach me about the music, I dislike comparisons that seem to be unneeded insults in (very thin) disguise.

  45. MaryNo Gravatar

    Very well put Sweetcheeks. Comparisons that are useful are definitely preferable, in that the reader gleans information that could allow them to give music a chance that they might have otherwise overlooked. However, just the opening line of EW’s review – are you a Taylor or a Miranda – put me off. They’re not one sentence into a review of Carrie Underwood’s album and they’re already naming other artists. It just rubs me the wrong way, and smacks of cutesy, lazy journalism IMHO.

    That said, I believe Blown Away, while risky, looks like it could be a viable next single, given its popularity and the fact that it’s a new direction for Carrie. I wouldn’t release the also-dark Two Black Cadillacs as the 3rd single however, but hold it until later (maybe releasing Cupid’s Got A Shotgun or the summer-friendly One Way Ticket). And I know, some don’t like One Way Ticket, but I think it’s cute and upbeat and again, shows Carrie branching out and breaking new ground (for her).

  46. JakeNo Gravatar

    The singles to me should be Good Girl, Blown Away, Do You Think About Me, Wine After Whiskey, and/or Two Black Cadillacs/Good In Goodbye in that order. We will see what happens though. If she releases these songs I think She’ll make up fpr some not so good past single choices.

  47. Sweetcheeks,

    YES, that’s exactly what I was trying to get at.

    On the topic of potenial future singles, I think “Do You Think About Me” would be a great choice. It’s one of the better-written and better-produced cuts, but it also feels very accessible and easily digestible. I could see it doing well at radio.

    I don’t know what Kevin is up to right now, but I’m sure he’ll chime in whenever he’s able.

  48. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    This is one album where it’s pretty hard to call what the singles will be.

    I’m like Jake – I’d definitely put “Blown Away,” “Do You Think About Me,” and “Wine After Whiskey” out there, and then for a fifth it’d be a toss-up between “Leave Love Alone” (will never happen) and “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun.”

    “One Way Ticket” seems inevitable, though (ugh), and from listening to Carrie’s brief Spotify commentaries yesterday, sounds like she might push to get “Forever Changed” out at some point. So we’ll see.

    In any case, first time I’ve found myself caring about the releases from a CU album!

  49. I really like “Do You Think About Me”, particularly Carrie’s vocals and the arrangement.

  50. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    …and from listening to Carrie’s brief Spotify commentaries yesterday, sounds like she might push to get “Forever Changed” out at some point. So we’ll see.

    Really? I thought she said multiple times that she’d never sing it live.

  51. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    Ah, well you’d know better than I would, T. Just figured with her calling it “the best-written song I’ve heard in my life”!

  52. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    I think you’re confusing it with “Blown Away”…I can’t remember where I heard her say that, but I’m sure someone else will :)

  53. I listened to Carrie’s Spotify commentaries also, and I seem to recall that above cited comment was indeed made about “Forever Changed,” though she also said she got “chills” when she first heard “Blown Away.” Of course, she could still have also said that she wouldn’t sing “Forever Changed” live.

  54. Jon2000No Gravatar

    She did say she won’t sing Forever Changed live, because it’s too emotional for her (reminds her of her grandma who had Alzheimer’s). So I guess if she wouldn’t sing it live, she probably wouldn’t want to hear it on the radio too often either.

  55. Jonathan KeefeNo Gravatar

    If we’re talking singles, a run of “Blown Away” (which consensus seems to say has already been announced as on-deck, and why not), “Do You Think About Me,” “Leave Love Alone,” and either “Good in Goodbye” or “Wine After Whiskey” (preferably the former, but the latter is all right, too) is something I could very easily get on board with.

    More likely? “Blown Away,” “See You Again,” “One Way Ticket,” and either “Good in Goodbye” or “Wine After Whiskey.” If they go six deep, I think “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun” also gets a look at radio. There’s the potential for a really, really strong run of singles, so I’ll be curious to see how this actually plays out.

    Fine job here, Ben. (And Dan).

  56. rezNo Gravatar

    I’d love these to be released after Good Girl:

    > Blown Away
    > Do You Think About Me
    > Good in Goodbye
    > One Way Ticket
    > Wine After Whiskey (after having so much fun with One Way Ticket, you get Wine After Whiskey, haha!)

  57. JakeNo Gravatar

    I’m just hoping One Way Ticket is just a fun album cut. It’s a fun song and all but there are way better songs that could be released. Actually anything but OWT, Who Are You, or Nobody Ever Told You would be just fine with me!

  58. picklesNo Gravatar

    “I find it quite disparaging to even mention other artists while in the process of reviewing another artist. But without wanting to bring up a major debate I will say it is SO infrequently done with male voices and so OFTEN done with female voices.”

    I agree 100% with this statement by Yellow Rose. It seems most reviewers feel it necessary in every review of a female artist and their new work to put in some sort of vocal comparison to that artist’s peers.

  59. picklesNo Gravatar

    (posted before I completed my train of thought)

    To me that aspect of reviewing is every bit as repetitive as the reviewers often accuse various artists of being.

    Carrie has a great voice, she’s technically greats. Sure, but every review of hers we’re beat over the head with it. Same with Taylor. She struggles at times in live performances, so every reviewer has to mention her voice isn’t perfect. Why can’t the reviewers focus on how the song makes them feel, and the fact that you don’t always want to hear the same style from every voice. Each (not just Carrie and Taylor, but those two seem the ones brought up most often) has their own voice and own style, and move their particular fans in their own way. None in my opinion is greater than the other in their ability to reach people, just differeent.

  60. JayNo Gravatar

    “The omission of some narrative details toward the end lessens the ultimate listener payoff, but “Two Black Cadillacs” likewise remains one of the album’s more striking and memorable cuts.”

    I actually like that TBC only gives a skeleton of a conspiracy and a timeline. I like having a song trigger creativity in a listener. It’s cool to think up all the different things that the women could have done to the guy.
    Props to Ben Foster for a well thought out review. I completely agree with the review. I truly appreciate Carrie’s willingness to grow. I just wish she would just stop adding pseudo-inspirational cliches that interject her songs at discreet points. If fillers like ‘Nobody ever told you’, ‘Who are You’ (ugh) were left in the cutting room floor, this would have been a much more consistently solid album.

  61. All this talk of comparisons keeps reminding me of an old Country California article on the subject, which I enjoyed. It hones in very well on the reasons why I feel comparisons can be helpful. Some may find it interesting.

    http://www.countrycalifornia.com/incidentally-i-like-comparisons/

    But I can see that this is a point on which some of us just disagree, which is all fine and good. I will just bring out that the comments with regard to Underwood being “one of country music’s most technically gifted female vocalists” weren’t necessarily meant to disparge other female artists. Her vocal prowess is just one of those special characteristics that make her stand out, like Miranda Lambert’s innovative musical style, or Taylor Swift’s distinctly personal songwriting perspective. That big voice is a big part of what makes Carrie Carrie, and I think anything like that is very much worth discussing in a review.

    I will say it is SO infrequently done with male voices and so OFTEN done with female voices.

    I can’t say I’ve noticed that much myself, but just one thought: There are a lot fewer successful female artists in country music than male artists. For some, that likely makes the females easier to compare with one another.

  62. There’s the potential for a really, really strong run of singles, so I’ll be curious to see how this actually plays out.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m so stoked to see which songs end up as singles. I sure do wish “One Way Ticket” didn’t have to be one of them though. :P

    I actually like that TBC only gives a skeleton of a conspiracy and a timeline. I like having a song trigger creativity in a listener. It’s cool to think up all the different things that the women could have done to the guy.

    I can see where you’re coming from there, and for the most part, I can agree that the lyric is very deftly contructed. I love how it starts out with the funeral scene, and then basically does a “So this is how we got here…” The one thing I would have liked better personally would be a subtle hint as to how the women supposedly killed the man, but still, I do like how the lyric holds off on the details just enough to build suspense.

  63. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    Yes, my apologies for not mentioning this before – great review, Ben!

    I actually like that TBC only gives a skeleton of a conspiracy and a timeline. I like having a song trigger creativity in a listener.

    I’m with you. She colors in the gaps with her performance. I prefer this song’s aesthetic to the detail of “Blown Away.” But, I’m weird.

    I will say it is SO infrequently done with male voices and so OFTEN done with female voices.

    I think that’s because when people compare female country artists, they swirl in elements of personality and image. That’s what I really take issue with.

  64. Yellow RoseNo Gravatar

    “I can’t say I’ve noticed that much myself, but just one thought: There are a lot fewer successful female artists in country music than male artists. For some, that likely makes the females easier to compare with one another.”

    I read the article you recommended and agree with your comment above Ben but like some of the other people commenting I am put off when the opening line of a review throws you instantaneously into a pack of wolves. For what good? That’s not a review to me, it’s a comparison and in my opinion will often cloud and/or lower the grade of the review.

  65. kerwinNo Gravatar

    I don’t know but the cliche laden songs in the album have the strongest tunes while those which are lyrically meaty lack such, save “Blown Away”. I happen to like “See You Again” and “Leave Love Alone” for its melancholic tune and her delivery respectively.

    It’s her second best I guess.

  66. Interesting point, kerwin. I also have a degree of enjoyment for “See You Again,” despite the weak lyrics – I just seem to find the “Oh-oh-oh” chants oddly infectious, while I think “Leave Love Alone” just sounds cool as all get out. I can’t say the same about “Nobody Ever Told You” or “One Way Ticket” though – those tend to get skipped.

  67. DaveNo Gravatar

    I’m not following why “Blown Away” is risky for Radio. If it’s because of the story line, I’m not buying it. Reba had no problem with The Night the lights went out in Georgia or Fancy. Both had risky storylines. If it’s because people don’t think it’s country then I say it’s more country than Good Girl and Keith Urban, Lady A, Jason Aldean, etc have songs that aren’t Country out all the time. My choice for singles after Good Girl would be.
    Blown Away
    Do You Think about Me/Wine after Whiskey
    Two Black Cadillacs
    One Way Ticket-Spring Summer of 2013
    Cupid

  68. “The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia” came out twenty years ago. Country radio has changed quite a bit since then. But like I said, if anyone could get that song played on radio, it would probably be Carrie.

  69. JanaNo Gravatar

    I only like the first song and See You Again on this album. The rest are really not so good and kind of boring. I love Carrie but am disappointed with the low quality of the songs for her to sing. I was hoping for a lot better.

  70. LynnNo Gravatar

    Love: Blown Away, Two Black Cadillacs, Do You Think About Me, Leave Love Alone, Cupid, Wine After Whiskey

    Like: Good Girl, Forever Changed, Good in Goodbye, One Way Ticket, Thank God for Hometowns

    Tend to skip: Nobody Ever Told You, Who Are You, See You Again

  71. KentNo Gravatar

    I would LOVE to see Two Black Cadillacs as a single sometime after Blown Away.

  72. VickiNo Gravatar

    I too applaud Carrie’s growth here. When she said, “It is her best album ever” I admit, I thought girl you said that with “Play On”. But when I heard the first two songs, “Blown Away” and “Two Black Caddilacs” I almost gasped. They are well written songs although I could have done without the overproduction. I also love “Good in Goodbye”, “Forever Changed”, “Wine After Whiskey” “Thank God for Hometowns” and love the instrumental break down in the fun “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun”. Shoot, I even like “One Way Ticket” even if I cringe everytime that “lick it!” phrase comes out my speakers. All in all, not a bad album after all. I think it’s her best one since “Some Hearts”.

  73. ZackNo Gravatar

    Listening to it, it’s a pretty good album, I think she improves a little with each album and the fact that she adds a different sound with each one usually adds to the positive of each new album. I like how she went a little darker and richer with this album and went a little more risque with the material. In short, another winner from Carrie that I will definitely be buying.

    Side Note: Loving “Thank God For Hometowns,” reminds me of Adele’s “Hometown Glory,” in terms of the general feel of the song itself.

  74. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    Shoot. I let “See You Again” get stuck in my head and now I think it’s my favorite. Same thing happened with “This Time” on the last album. I can’t be trusted with a big, sappy hook. Plus I get a silly kick out of how she pronounces it “till I see you a-giiiiiin.” And from the level of emphasis on “I will carry.” Teehee.

  75. kerwinNo Gravatar

    @ Ben, oh God. I thought “One Way Ticket” was a hot mess. I felt embarrassed the first time I listened to that song. Guilty pleasure? I don’t know. HAHA!

  76. MotownMikeNo Gravatar

    I was actually disappointed that One Way Ticket wasn’t what I initially thought it was. I truthfully wanted to hear Carrie’s take on the end of LeAnn’s “One Way Ticket” once I saw that title on the album. When LeAnn Rimes hits that final high note and carries (no pun intended) it through to the end it becomes one of those brief moments where a song sweeps you away from your surroundings and immerses you in the moment. At least it had that effect on me. I suppose those I should have tempered my excitement when “(Because I Can)” didn’t follow in the title.

  77. I’ve been a fan of “One Way Ticket (Because I Can)” ever since I was a kid, and I’ve always loved the big note at the end. I have no doubt Carrie could nail that note, though I never really held out any hope that her “One Way Ticket” was a cover.

    Anyway, your comment made me go back and play the song again :) I definitely agree with your description of it.

  78. LynnNo Gravatar

    Carrie performed 3 of the tracks at the Opry show last Saturday:

    Blown Away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLbHWxakfSE&feature=relmfu

    Thank God for Hometowns: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi_8l0sbheE&

    Leave Love Alone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTMo4_XH7QQ&feature=relmfu

    And she covered Alan Jackson’s Remember When:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtIxjgT1pcE&feature=relmfu

  79. JoJoNo Gravatar

    As for singles, I am hoping for:

    Blown Away
    Do You Think About Me
    Cupid’s Got A Shotgun
    Two Black Cadillacs

    and if there is a 6th, then See You Again

  80. White CleatsNo Gravatar

    She has GOT to fire her stylist.

  81. GloriaNo Gravatar

    I can’t believe people that compare Carrie and Taylor Swift. Jesus Take the Wheel and How Great Thou Art. Listen to them and see the difference. Anyone who says negative comments about Carrie are nuts.

  82. This is my favourite album of all time! ! !;)

  83. Motown MikeNo Gravatar

    Still waiting for the label to release either “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun” or “Wine After Whiskey” as a single on this album but somehow I don’t think these wishes will be fulfilled.

  84. VickiNo Gravatar

    I know! I was soooooooo disappointed when a Big Carrie fan told me that Carrie is done with anymore releases from “Blown Away” I know it’s her album, but she seems to keep missing the best song(s) of each album to be released.

  85. ShainaNo Gravatar

    Yep, “Blown Away” era is over. Sad, and that means that there probably won’t be any solo Carrie material on radio for another year (at least) if anything is how it was in between “Mama’s Song” and “Good Girl”.

  86. If they are done releasing singles from this album, then that’s too bad. But overall, I think she’s had a pretty great run of hits from this album in spite of the missed opportunities.

  87. That’s very dissapointing news.

  88. CountryKnightNo Gravatar

    Tis a shame. Almost as bad as Josh Turner only releasing two singles from his latest album.