*1/2 (out of four)
Through her previous three albums, Carrie Underwood managed to go from “American Idol” to the top of the country gal heap. And that heap (Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, et al.) tends to sit squarely in the pop-country category, churning out powerful ballads and girl-power jams with country twists (think excessive mentions of whiskey, boots, shotguns, lakes and cowboys). Top 40 country radio eats up single after single.
“Good Girl”—the first single off her new album, “Blown Away”—fills this role perfectly. The guy sucks, the girl needs to get out and Underwood snarls through the foot-stomping chorus. If the entire album followed suit, it would have provided an inevitable string of unorginal hits.
But other than this first single, I can only see “Thank God For Hometowns” being a track I’d go back to. It’s another in a series of small-town nostalgia tracks ala Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” and Jason Aldean’s “Fly Over States.” Faux-sentimental hogwash ... that gets me every time.
Unfortunatly, Underwood has decided to go in what I assume she considers a “dark” direction. There’s an over-the-top revenge fantasy jam (“Two Black Cadallacs”) that will have you re-listening to make sure she’s really suggesting that, yes, a man’s wife and mistress have teamed up to off him. And the title track includes a too-low-for-her-voice chanting section that involves the lyrics, “There’s not enough wind in Oklahoma / to rip the nails out of the past.”
If your eyes already are rolling away, I do not recommend skipping ahead to the reggae-tinged summer jam “One Way Ticket,” which reminds us that “life is like a ride on a party bus.”
I think I’ve finally realized why people hate country music.
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