Review: Carrie Underwood Issues Her Best Album Yet With 'Storyteller'



Three and a half years after the release of her ‘Blown Away’ album, country superstar Carrie Underwood returns with ‘Storyteller’, her fifth studio album.

The 32-year-old star, who rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of ‘American Idol’, has somehow manage to do what seems to be impossible over the first decade of her music career, and that is remain relevant without any scandals or shocking antics. She has done this by keeping the focus on her music and her powerhouse voice, which is by far the best in country music, and this is thoroughly driven home on her latest release. Our top five moments beneath:

Top 5 Moments from ‘Storyteller’

5. “Chaser”: With its clever use of wordplay (‘chaser’ and ‘chase her’), the most jarring thing about “Chaser” is that it is not a country song. Not even a little bit. Underwood tries hard to mask its pop aura with her southern twang, but with its building chorus and radio made lyrics, the evidence is still there and it helps her just as much as it hurts her.

Much like Taylor Swift, she has often been accused of making pop music and selling it as country, so despite the song, which she co-wrote with Hillary Lindsey and Mike Elizondo, resonating as one of the standout moments and showing another dimension of her artistry, it will also lead to more questions that we’re tired of hearing and that she is tired of answering.

4. “Renegade Runaway”: On the rousing opening number, she sends a stern warning of a woman that “looks like an angel”, but is really a “devil in a satin dress”. The message is similar to past No.1 hits “Cowboy Casanova” and “Good Girl”, but producer Jay Joyce, one of two new producers recruited by Underwood for the album, adds more of a rock edge here that gives it a distinct sound that sets it apart.

3. “Like I’ll Never Love You Again”: Arising as the disc’s quietest moment, Underwood’s voice shines on this love sick ballad written by the Love Junkies, the same trio behind the year’s best country song “Girl Crush”. Here the trio composed of Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Underwood’s main girl Hillary Lindsey, who co-wrote nine of the album’s thirteen tracks, crafts yet another beautifully written song that compliments the sheer purity of her tone. Sometimes less is more, and she has shown on more than one occasion that she can make just as big of an impact without utilizing her voice to the full extent.

2. “Dirty Laundry”: If Underwood excels at anything, it is embodying the fiery of a woman scorned and she does it so well that you often forget that she is actually a happily married woman. We’ve heard her play this role before by slashing tires and smashing headlights on “Before He Cheats” and even teaming up to commit murder on “Two Black Cadillacs”. In comparison, simply hanging up proof of his infidelity on the clothesline may seem weak, but the results are just as rewarding and Underwood once again proves to be virtuoso in her delivery.

1. “Choctaw County Affair”: Written by Jason White, the same guy behind Tim McGraw’s controversial abortion tune “Red Ragtop”, this thumping track sees Underwood deliver perhaps the best song of her recording career.

Telling the story of a couple who stands trial after silencing their blackmailer, it is different from any song that she has ever recorded and unlike some of the other selections featured here, it doesn’t feel familiar in any shape or form. What is even more impressive than that is how fearlessly she owns it and brings the story to life, and one can only hope that her record label takes the same approach and has enough guts to actually release it as a single.

Honorable Mention

“Church Bells”: It wouldn’t be a Carrie Underwood album, if somebody didn’t die and that is exactly what happens on this twangy tune about a rich oil man and his stunning bride. To the public they look like the picture perfect “Ken and Barbie” couple, but behind closed doors, Ken has a drinking problem and his actions result in Barbie covering bruises with makeup and dark sunglasses. This is classic country and her conviction here is spot on, helping it to become the best revenge tune against domestic violence since Miranda Lambert’s hit “Gunpowder and Lead”.

Final Verdict

With ‘Storyteller’, Carrie Underwood delivers the most cohesive set of her career and for many reasons, it is also her best. Aside from working with two new producers in Zach Crowell and Jay Joyce, who helms most of the album’s best tracks, she also manages to find a balance of the traditional elements that make country what it is and the present elements that made her a star.

She experiments when she could play it safe and although some of the tracks borderline on becoming cheesy (See: “The Girl You Think I Am” and “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted”), everything here serves a purpose and work for the set and not against it.

Regardless, she is as relatable (See: “Smoke Break”) as she is consistent and although Miranda Lambert may win more awards at the country shows and her star may never reach the heights of Taylor Swift, her talent will always leave the competition in the dust, which is crystal clear before you even reach the halfway mark of ‘Storyteller’.

4 OUT OF 5
Review: Carrie Underwood Issues Her Best Album Yet With 'Storyteller' Review: Carrie Underwood Issues Her Best Album Yet With 'Storyteller' Reviewed by Celebrity Bug on 11/04/2015 Rating: 5

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