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Blown Away (Album Cover), Carrie Underwood

It has been almost two and a half years since Carrie Underwood put out ‘Play On’, and despite the album amassing three chart-topping singles and eventually going double platinum, it still ranks as the least successful of her three releases.

Still, her resume speaks for itself and throughout her first three projects (‘Some Hearts’, ‘Carnival Ride’ and the previously-mentioned set ‘Play On’), we have watched in awe as Underwood has amazed us with her biggest asset:  her voice.

Her fourth studio album ‘Blown Away’, available on May 1, continues this trend.

While no moment on ‘Blown Away’ soars as high vocally as “I Know You Won’t” from her second album or her brilliant rendition of “How Great Thou Art”, the album showcases the versatility of her instrument better than any of her previous outings. Whether she is sending warnings that a heartbreaker is on the loose (“Good Girl”) or finding strength and happiness in the power of letting go (“Good in Goodbye”), Underwood sounds as assure and confident as ever.

On the haunting second single and title track “Blown Away”, she sings of a destructive and abusive father and the little girl that seeks revenge on him, while the follow-up “Two Black Cadillacs” tells the story of a wife and a mistress coming together for the first time to stare down the face of betrayal.

“See You Again” sees Underwood refusing to end a chapter in her life with a significant force and relishing on the certainty that their paths will cross again. The song was originally crafted for ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ soundtrack, but the film’s producers opted to release “There’s A Place For Us” instead.

The album’s most personal and emotional moment surfaces in the form of “Forever Changed”, a song that Underwood says she will never perform live. Here she tells the tender story of a mother giving birth and her now grown daughter watching as her memory slips away into the distance.

Songs like this are what separate Underwood from other premier vocalists; she takes it easy and doesn’t let her capabilities overshadow what is already a beautiful work of art.

Still, amongst her works of art are a couple of lesser moments. “Do You Think About Me” is the most forgettable moment on the album and the uplifting “Nobody Ever Told You” is the cheesiest song about self-worth since Katy Perry’s chart-topping smash “Firework”.

With that said, although these song aren’t as strong as the other songs, they still offer some significance to the set as a whole by allowing Underwood to showcase a different side of herself.

On the fun and breezy “One Way Ticket”, she toys with her inner Bob Marley and Kenny Chesney, while “Thank God For Hometowns” pulls on your heartstrings in the vein of Miranda Lambert’s hit “The House That Built Me”.

“When you’re lost out in this crazy world / You got somewhere to go and get found / Thank God for hometowns,” she beautifully sings on the Luke Laird, Ashley Gorley and Hillary Lindsey-written stunner.

“Leave Love Alone” and “Cupid’s Got A Shotgun” are fully invested in the aura of country music. On the former, she acknowledges that despite being burned by love, she can’t quit coming back for more, while Brad Paisley adds his dexterous guitar skills to the redneck-laced “Cupid’s Got A Shotgun”.

“Wine After Whiskey”, the album’s highlight, can only be described as a breathtaking gem. On the track, which was initially written for her ‘Play On’ album, she sings of a love that was once so powerful that everything that follows feels watered down and simply pales in comparison.

The closing track “Who Are You”, which was written by Mutt Lange, sees Underwood singing about her faith and much talked about relationship with God. This is probably the most vocally challenging song on the album and Underwood soars, bringing the album to an effective end.

Final Verdict

With her fourth album, Carrie Underwood has done the near impossible. Not only has she delivered fourteen unique and distinct entries that stand on their own, but they also combine beautifully and meticulously to create ‘Blown Away’.

The material is impressive and now that Underwood no longer has anything to prove as a vocalist, her approach steers the ship in the right direction.

Sometimes less is more, and given most of the songs didn’t require her vocal gymnastics, she added little attributes that enhance her performance and show her growth as an artist. To put it simply, ‘Blown Away’, does just that.

4½ OUT OF 5

Celebrity Bug’s Key Tracks
“Blown Away”, “Forever Changed”, “One Way Ticket”, “Thank God for Hometowns”, “Good in Goodbye”, “Wine After Whiskey” & “Who Are You”.

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