Carrie Underwood has been dropping classics for years upon years. From winning American Idol to collaborating with the likes of Miranda Lambert and reaching pop crossover success, Carrie has always been on top. Her last album, Storyteller, was absolutely terrific and garnered her more #1 records and a fourteenth Grammy nomination. Earlier this year, Carrie suffered a fall that resulted in 40 stitches on her face; also, she recently revealed that she suffered three miscarriages since her last pregnancy in 2014. So, it makes sense her new album is titled Cry Pretty: she’s undergone some traumatic events, but she is now pregnant with her second child and prepping a 360° arena tour.
The album kicks off with the incredible, and massively underrated, title track, “Cry Pretty.” The song serves as a prelude to what should be expected on Carrie’s sixth studio effort: well-written songs anchored by strong guitar riffs and roof-raising vocals. It isn’t easy to choose a few songs to highlight on this album; every single track is incredible and there is not one “bad” song. But, we all know Carrie Underwood makes good music.
The real achievement of Cry Pretty is the experimentation. Whether she’s leaning into R&B on “Backsliding” and “That Song We Used To Make Love To,” or flexing her pop music strengths on “Kingdom” and “End Up With You,” Carrie excels. Country music is a genre where artists can get stuck in a formula based on basic lyrical tropes and traditional instrumentation. Six albums and one greatest hits collection into her career, Carrie was knowledgeable enough to switch up her sound a bit. Purists need not worry as there is still the standard country fare (“Southbound,” “Ghosts on the Stereo”). Carrie is even willing to dip her toe into blues influences on the stunning “Low” and “The Bullet.”
Lyrically, Cry Pretty sports the most input from Carrie (she is credited on nine out of the thirteen songs). Second single, “Love Wins” carefully treads the line between uplifting and cheesy and “Spinning Bottles” is a gorgeous narrative-driven song in the vein of “Church Bells” and “Smoke Break.” Simply put, Carrie nails it; Cry Pretty is easily one of the strongest albums of the year and quite possibly her best.
Key Tracks: “Low,” “Backsliding,” “The Bullet,” “Spinning Bottles”
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