Review: Carrie Underwood, Blown Away

Carrie Underwood‘s new album is called Blown Away and it includes a song named Cupid’s Got a Shotgun. 

But it is in the album’s quieter moments that Underwood shows her true gift as an artist: she kills you.

Blown Away includes several selections akin to her instant classic rockers such as Cowboy Casanova and Before He Cheats that Underwood delivers with sass and authority. But the magic on her fourth album since her victorious turn on season four of American Idol is when she lays aside the theatrics and the pretensions of the “is this country?” chatter and just sings some honest, relateable songs from a woman who sounds like she still tools around her native Oklahoma in a Ford Escape.

Chief among these is Forever Changed by Tom Douglas, James T. Slater and Hillary Lindsey, a heartbreaking ballad about a lovely life slipping away to Alzheimer’s. Underwood has been saying she can’t sing the song live because it’s too emotional, and wiping away a few tears listening to it, you can understand. The emotions aren’t quite as intense, but no less real on other tracks such as Thank God for Hometowns, Good in Goodbye and See You Again.  The main quality that made Underwood an Idol winner and its most successful graduate was people feel like they know her, like she is a girl next door. That feeling endures.

It has helped that she can have some fun, and that comes here in the leadoff single and track, Good Girl, as well as the standout storytelling song Two Black Cadillacs, the tale of a mistress and a wife and the late scoundrel they unwittingly shared.  It paints the revenge fantasy of Before He Cheats a few shades darker

In title, Blown Away promises a bit more than it delivers. But we already knew she could do those big rockers and ballads. The discovery here is more subtle and intimate.

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