My Thoughts: Upfront, I just really need to say something. Although this profession really has nothing to do with the songs on this album or the writing, I really feel like I should say that I am not overly fond of this album… cover art. After three prior fun, artistic, and “classy” shoots, this one is just… too un-cool. It could have been great in an edgy kind of way but it fails. Something is just off about it – the posing or something. With that ridiculous prattling out of the way (forgive me!), we will be moving on with me just saying: Carrie is baaaaack!
The country crooner who made a splash after winning an early season of American Idol has got talent. Not only does she usually share writing credits on most of the songs (as she does here along with renowned songwriter Hillary Lindsey) but this girl has got some vocal pipes! Seriously, her voice is one of the best the country scene has ever known. This, her fourth studio album is lovely… but I am not sure I can honestly say it is her best yet. There is something different about it and in that, it is perhaps lacking something I cannot quite put my finger on.
Many of the songs are focused on overcoming adversity (things or the people in our life that may belittle us). The titular track is one such song, and let me tell you, it is fierce – the second track off the album, it tells a story of abuse and mixes literal weather twister metaphors with life’s heartbreaks. Interestingly, despite telling a sad story, it is probably one of the best performances – Carrie sounds phenomenal on the song and I love the music backing those vocals.
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Then there is the sweeter, less edgy “Nobody Ever Told You,” a song in the tradition of Britt Nicole’s “Gold” and many other songs of late, the trend seems to be writing a song about girls realizing their beauty is more than just make-up and pretty things (“shine like a diamond / glitter like gold…”). Wherever it is coming from, it’s a message that girls need to take to heart. The breezy, fun-loving “One Way Ticket” opens with whistling that sets the tone for a song that doubles as perfect summer listening (it instantly puts a smile on your face) and then on the opposite spectrum there is “Wine after Whiskey” which recounts a past love affair using the title as a metaphor for the “strength” the relationship had.
Playing into the typical, true country-western songstress’ roots is “Thank God for Hometowns,” a simple, homey piece that is full of nostalgic memories – right down to mentions of a grade-school teacher. One of the most tender songs off the album is “Forever
Changed” which tells a sweet life story that is not perhaps Carrie’s best vocal work but is a beautiful song nonetheless with some stunning piano music carrying it to its crescendo. Most of the songs are unforgettable (even “See you Again” is a touching ballad) – as we’ve come to expect nothing less from Carrie Underwood but something about the themes of the album seem somehow darker and less impressive than her work on Play On or Carnival Ride. Still, it is a memorable collection.
Rounding out the tracks are “Good Girl” (possibly the best on the entire record – its toe-tapping beats are phenomenal); “Two Black Cadillac’s” (great beats and vocals – story of revenge on some dude who misused the women in his life); “Do you Think about Me”; “Good in Goodbye” (a song that has grown on me – I now hear it as one of Carrie’s best, it is lovely); “Leave Love Alone”; “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun” (this is definitely country music at its most… country – we also have a guest appearance from Brad Paisley on the guitar); and “Who are You” closes the record out (a truly beautiful, heartfelt song!).
Just the fact that there is new material in generous numbers (14 new tracks in all!) will make any fan beyond happy. In spite of my petty complainants, the album is five-star quality. The songs are each unique in their own way by different methods (writing, vocals or music backing) and the album is well-rounded. Another winner from the a-mazing Carrie Underwood.
What is your favorite song? Do you have an album by this artist that is your favorite?
About the Album:
Writing Credits: Carrie Underwood, Ashley Gorley, Chris DeStefano, Hillary Lindsey, Josh Kear, Luke Laird
Label: Arista Nashville
Genre: Country, Rock