Ever since she took a baseball bat to an unfaithful lover’s “pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive” on her massive hit “Before He Cheats” (off 2005’s multiplatinum debut Some Hearts), Carrie Underwood has been gradually amassing street cred as a good-girl-with-a-quiet-baddie-streak. Fans have been waiting for her to give full rein to that inner vixen.
The wait is over. This month sees the arrival of the country-pop dazzler’s fourth studio album, Blown Away, which is marked by a decidedly edgy, wild-at-heart aesthetic that sheds new light on the big-voiced chanteuse’s career arc.
The brash lead-off single “Good Girl” takes aim at those latter-day sweet things. Underwood feels the need to display a bit more grit when it comes to love and romance. Bold tracks like the uptempo “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun” continue this subversive dalliance with matters of the heart. The theme takes on a poignant, if devious, resonance on “Two Black Cadillacs,” an emotional number about a wife and a mistress who both show up for the funeral of the man they once shared.
That Underwood manages to perform such cuts with no shortage of spark and sincerity helps explain why the former American Idol champ is such a consistently noteworthy megatalent in the industry mainstream – and why fans show no sign of losing interest in her artistry anytime soon.
This winsome 14-track record features production by Mark Bright and songwriting contributions from Hilary Lindsey and Ryan Tedder, among others. Blown Away is classic Underwood, conveying the sort of affecting storytelling, powerhouse vocals, and sheer star power that made her an instant A-lister and a consummate fave among the ever-growing multitude of modern country darlings.
Easy standouts like “Do You Think About Me?” and “Good in Goodbye” and “Thank God for Hometowns” would fit right in on 2007’s Carnival Ride or even 2009’s Play On. They are the very definition of real and heartfelt.
So while Blown Away indicates a step into darker territory for Underwood, the singer’s thoroughly classy and refreshingly charmed delivery is the stuff of a true American sweetheart.
BEST TRACKS: “Forever Changed,” “Good Girl” and “Do You Think About Me?”