Carrie Underwood plays to her strength on new album Storyteller
While American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson became a global pop superstar, a lot of people expected the same to happen when Carrie Underwood won the talent show a few years later. Underwood however decided that she wanted to record country music, a genre that is usually not that popular on the other side of the ocean. Five albums later she is still producing country with a twist of pop, but never leaving her roots behind, like Taylor Swift did to become an international pop phenomenon. Her brand new record Storyteller will probably not cross borders, but why would you have to when the USA are already at your feet?
When Carrie released the single ‘Blown Away’ in 2012, it seemed she had a pop hit in her hands, but it didn’t really take off internationally and now she is back in the comfortable pop with folky country elements. She launched a greatest hits album last year with the huge single ‘Something In The Water’. The release of ‘Smoke Break’, the first single from Storyteller, was a bit of a disappointment after this big moment as this single didn’t manage to impress melodically or lyrically. The song seemed a bit underwhelming for Carrie, who usually writes big anthems about cheating husbands, abusing fathers, players and her Christian faith.
Luckily we get some more substantial songs on the record and you actually start to realize that ‘Smoke Break’ is one of the few weaker links. For example ‘Church Bells’, about a ‘fairytale marriage’ turning into a case of domestic violence would have been a better single choice. The chorus is undeniably powerful with an in your face hook and emotive vocals without oversinging. She could have opened the album campaign with the fast paced ‘Renegade Runaway’ that flies through your speaker like some sort of whirlwind. Of course a Carrie album would not be complete without a middle finger track to a cheating guy and she delivers this with the feisty and radio friendly ‘Dirty Laundry’. ‘Chaser’ and ‘Clock Don’t Stop’ are two of the more poppy moments with definitely single worthy choruses. The tracks are produced in a understated manner in the verses to create a sonic explosion when the chorus comes around, something that has always worked well with Carrie’s impressive vocals.
Like on each of Underwood’s albums that were released before, there is room for some ballads as well and luckily, the slower tracks on Storyteller actually have quite a positive vibe. There is the sweet love song ‘Heartbeat’, ‘The Girl You Think I Am’ about how her father always puts her on a pedestal and ‘What I Never Knew I Always Wanted’ about how happy Carrie is with something she never really wished for before she had it, her own little family! On ‘Relapse’ she gets some room to show off those impressive pipes of hers once again and we ain’t complaining. Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller doesn’t show any new directions for the country pop star. She colors within the lines, but when you do it so beautifully there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Must listen: Church Bells, Chaser, Renegade Runaway, Clock Don’t Stop, What I Never Knew I Always Wanted