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Being a big country fan, Carrie Underwood is one of my favourite artists of this generation. She has a very unique mix of quite country songs with a pop beat and sound which I think is how she is able to cross over into main stream music. She has a really beautiful voice that lends itself well to country music and some of her songs are my favourite songs of all time.
Carrie won American Idol, the television talent show way back in 2005 in the fourth series and has become a very successful artist since she was on American Idol. According to an article I read she is now a multi-platinum selling recording artist, a multiple Grammy Award winner, was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and is the reigning Academy of Country Music Awards Entertainer of The Year.
Blown Away is Carrie Underwoods fourth album that she has made and was released in May 2012. The album has done really well and I can see why, it's definitely one of my favourites of hers. According to an article I read, "As of May 15, 2013, Blown Away has sold 1,438,000 copies. The album was the seventh best selling album of 2012, being the second time Underwood has an album inside the top 10 albums since Some Hearts landed at number three in 2006. It was number two for country albums."
Stand out tracks on this album for me are as follows:
Jesus take the wheel - Carrie is very vocal about her faith and although I wouldn't call this a Christian song she sings about a girl who is driving in her car with her baby in the back when she hits black ice and skids and asks for Jesus' help to protect her. For me I think this could just be a story in a song but I like to think its a metaphor for the bigger picture and other things that are happening in your life for which you need to give yourself to Jesus and ask his help to protect you.
Blown Away is a very powerful song and quite a dangerous one in a way too. In it Carrie sings about speaks of a female and her revenge towards her abusive father by failing to help him into shelter when a tornado arrives. I don't think this is autobiographical from Carrie in anyway but still quite a scary subject. The music and sounds on this song are amazing with great storm sound effects which for me really brings the song to life.
What I love about Carrie songs is that a lot of them are about love, that's one of the main themes in country songs and she tells a love story very well with lots of interesting ways to talk about love. In this track, Cupid's got a Shotgun she talks about the fact that she is trying to shy away from love but cupid has given up on just arrows and has got a shotgun pointed at her heart!
Although Carrie is happily married in real life she has a bit of a wild, revengeful side in her songs. In Before he Cheats she talks about a potentially unfaithful boyfriend and what she will do to him if he cheats. She talks about things like keying his car, smashing the headlights and slashing his tyres, wow, wouldn't want to be an ex-boyfriend of Carrie's!!
The rest of the tracks are as follows:
1. "Good Girl"
2. "Blown Away"
3. "Two Black Cadillacs"
4. "See You Again"
5. "Do You Think About Me"
6. "Forever Changed"
7. "Nobody Ever Told You"
8. "One Way Ticket"
9. "Thank God for Hometowns"
10. "Good in Goodbye"
11. "Leave Love Alone"
12. "Cupid's Got a Shotgun"
13. "Wine After Whiskey"
14. "Who Are You"
15. "Cowboy Casanova"
16. "Before He Cheats"
17. "Last Name"
18. "Jesus, Take the Wheel"
Perhaps not so well known to the UK market, Carrie Underwood has only recently started to perform in the UK (June 2012, then most recently this month), despite being a huge hit in America since winning American Idol in 2005. As her popularity in the UK is yet to be properly established it is no surprise that it is so difficult to find an hard copy of this album in UK stores. Fear not though UK Carrie fans, the album is available to buy (as a download or hard copy) from most good online entertainment stores.
If not familiar with Carrie Underwood's music and not so keen on traditional country music, I would still recommend giving this album a listen. If you like LeAnn Rimes, who has already established a music career in the UK with her country music, chances are you'll probably like Carrie Underwood too.
So what can you expect from this album? Lots of catchy, lively songs that are mostly about men (but not quite as depressing as most Taylor Swift songs about men, another country star who is now popular in the UK).
My favorite songs:
Good girl: This lively song features a whole lot of guitar riffs and clapping drum sounds. It is about a good girl who likes a man (of course) who is no good for her. This song features a play on words with lyrics such as "His lips are dripping honey, but he'll sting you like a bee".
One Way Ticket : This is quite an upbeat song about making the most out of bad situations.
Cowboy Casanova: Another song about a not so desirable man, Cowboy Casanova is another up beat song with hints of traditional country music in the background with a pop style beat over the top of it.
Blown Away: One of the few 'depressive' songs on the album, blown away is about a tornado blowing a house down which in turn blows away the bad memories a woman has been through while living in the house.
Last Name: This is by far my favorite Carrie Underwood song, Last name is a song about getting drunk and ending up with someone who's name you don't know. The song follows the story of a woman meeting a man in a club, getting so drunk that they get in a car with a stranger and then marrying the stranger and not knowing their own last name. This sounds utterly bizarre but it works really well as a song.
Before He Cheats : 'Before He Cheats' carries on the story of the guy in the 'Last Name' song and follows the story of a cheating spouse and the revenge the women takes in order to make him think before he cheats in future relationships.
Do You Think About Me: 'Do You Think About Me' is another song of which i think will be popular with traditional country fans as Carrie's vocals in this song feature the very distinct edge (almost like an echo) as featured in most traditional country songs.
Conclusion: If you're a fan of Taylor Swift or LeAnn Rimes, this album is defiantly worth a listen. I would describe this as a Pop/ Country album (even though Carrie is considered primarily a country singer). I am not so keen on most traditional country artists but I wouldn't group Carrie's music style with a traditional country style, I would say it is a whole new style because it isn't swayed towards pop (like Taylor Swift and LeAnn Rimes), it's more like a mix of the two genres.
Most reality show alumni have a habit of fading after an album or two. Carrie Underwood has rather magnificently been able to buck this trend and shed her American Idol tag to go on to become one of the world's biggest stars. In just a few short years, she has racked up 14 million album sales and five grammy awards. Her fourth album, 'Blown Away' is a truly remarkable country-pop album. While her first three albums followed a fairly similar formula, 'Blown Away' sees Carrie experimenting with new themes and darker sounds - both lyrically and instrumentally. With her flawless and smooth vocals, and gorgeous melodies, this is truly one of the best country albums in years.
The album boasts 'Good Girl' - an up-tempo track heavily influenced by both pop and southern rock. The guitar riffs and feisty lyrics will instantly work their way into the listener's head, as Carrie warns a young woman off a good-for-nothing man - reminiscent of her previous hit, 'Cowboy Casanova'. The song has a soaring chorus and incredible vocals, and will definitely appeal to fans whose tastes lie predominantly on the pop-side of the spectrum.
However, the album for the most part, explores darker subject matter. The title track is easily one of the best things she has ever recorded. Heavily-influenced by U2, the stormy country-rock song tells the tale of an abused young girl, who grows up in misery until years later, when she experiences release as a tornado comes and destroys her family home. "She locked herself in the cellar, listening to the screaming of the wind/Some people call it taking shelter, she called it sweet revenge" she sings on the sinister verses. The soaring vocals, the dramatic production and the compelling lyrics are utterly enthralling. Without a doubt, one of my favourite songs of all time. It also accompanies 'Two Black Cadillacs', a clever song about a man's funeral, which as the song progresses, has been caused by a collaboration between his long-suffering wife and his heartbroken mistress. In the bridge, Carrie sings that "It was the first time and last time they saw each other face to face/They shared a crimson smile and just walked away/And left the secret at the grave." The addictive chorus, the swirling violins and pounding drums, make it an atmospheric and mesmerising song - one of the best on the CD.
Of course, there are more relatable tracks on the album, which return you to Carrie's own life experiences. 'See You Again' weaves piano and uplifting percussion, to reflect the bittersweet subject matter, as she sings about fighting through the pain of loss with the certain knowledge that you will see someone again in the next life. There is a strangely euphoric quality to the song which stops it from ever feeling too depressing. Similar, to 'Good in Goodbye', both tracks find the bittersweet joy in heartbreak. This track was co-written by OneRepublic frontman, Ryan Tedder, and recounts seeing the man you were once in love with years later, and releasing that your break-up was for the best. The slow-building acoustic melody and the gorgeous chorus make for such a brilliant song, with a subject matter anyone can really relate to. You can't help but pencil in faces from your past as you listen.
For the most part, the album has some strong pop and rock influences, however, there are some moments where you can see the influence of more traditional country and folk music. 'Wine after Whiskey' is one of the highlights, as a melancholic ballad laced with steel-guitars and banjos about comparing past and present loves, and how your current partner just cannot measure up to the level of passion you felt before. "Once you've tasted a love that strong, you can't go back and you can't settle on/Anything less, and that's what gets me/It's like having wine after whiskey." The song is understated and heartbreaking in every way. There are some more up-tempo country songs, however, with 'Cupid's Got a Shotgun' providing an interesting change of pace, and injecting a lot of wit and humour into Carrie's lyrics.
At times, attempts to add some diversity and more upbeat tracks into the mix, such as 'One Way Ticket' feel a little forced. As one of the only weak tracks on the set, there is nothing wrong with the song as such, but it feels a little cringe-worthy with its double-entendre about going on vacation, which serves a metaphor for living life to the fullest.
Carrie is arguably at her best when she is at her most emotional, with 'Forever Changed' being an emotional rollercoaster of a song. The song is a four minute journey through someone's life - falling in love, becoming a mother, and then finally, falling victim to Alzheimer's and feeling her life fade away. The track is a devastating, yet powerful listen, and will really leave a mark on you.
The UK edition of the album boasts four bonus tracks - 'Jesus, Take the Wheel', 'Before He Cheats', 'Last Name' and 'Cowboy Casanova' - four of her biggest hits from her previous albums. So if you are British, this album is the perfect introduction to Carrie and her music.
However, in relation to the rest of her back catalogue, it could easily be deemed her best. She takes on challenging subject matter and makes it both powerful and relatable, while never losing sight of the radio-friendly hooks and melodies which made her so popular in the first place. The diversity of sounds, and incorporation of more strings and rock guitars, add a heightened sense of drama to some of the songs. Without a doubt, a near-perfect album for Carrie's existing fans or those with a keen ear for country music. However, even if you are not the biggest country fan, 'Blown Away' will undoubtedly live up to its title and provide you with a surprising and undeniably enthralling listen.
HIGHLIGHTS: Good Girl, Blown Away, Two Black Cadillacs, See You Again, Good in Goodbye, Wine After Whiskey, Who Are You
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Good Girl
2 Blown Away
3 Two Black Cadillacs
4 See You Again
5 Do You Think About Me
6 Forever Changed
7 Nobody Ever Told You
8 One Way Ticket
9 Thank God For Hometowns
10 Good In Goodbye
11 Leave Love Alone
12 Cupid's Got A Shotgun
13 Wine After Whiskey
14 Who Are You
15 Cowboy Casanova
16 Before He Cheats
17 Last Name
18 Jesus, Take The Wheel