CD REVIEW: CARRIE UNDERWOOD – CRY PRETTY BY ADRIAN CLARK FOR COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE & RADIO SHOW

Carrie Underwood– Cry Pretty

Release
Date: 14 September 2018

Label:
Capitol Nashville)

13 Tracks

Time: 50:26

Rating:
2.1/2 STARS out of 5

Chart Success:

Debut#1 UK Country iTunes Album
Chart (#4 UK iTunes all-genres)

No1Billboard 200 (Chart issue week Sept 29,
2018 |
266,000 equivalent album units | 250,700 sales.)

First
female country artist to score four Number One albums and marked the largest
for a country album in more than three years.

Cry
Pretty Track List
:

Cry
Pretty / Ghosts On The Stereo / Low / Backsliding / Southbound / That Song That
We Used To Make Love To / Drinking Alone/ The Bullet/ Spinning Bottles/ Love
Wins/ End Up With You/ Kingdom

Back in April CAPITOL NASHVILLE’s Carrie Underwood announced
her new album, CRY PRETTY would
drop
on September 14th. The project marked her first studio album
release on CAPITOL since signing with UMG NASHVILLE in March
2017.

Revealing
her sixth studio album she described it as the “most personal album yet.”
Underwood co-produced the album with fellow writer/producer David Garcia and co-wrote nine of its 13 tracks. She also
shared: “At this point in my career, I feel stronger and more creative than
ever. I think you can hear that in this new album. It’s emotional, it’s
soulful, it’s real, and we also have some fun on there too. I hope everyone
loves it as much as I have loved making it.”

The
Seven-time Grammy winner and Pollstar’s three-time top female country touring
artist went on to make further announcements in August with the launch of a new
arena tour, The Cry Pretty Tour 360. In
Spring 2019 she will play 55 arenas across
the U.S. and Canada joined on tour by special guests Maddie & Tae and Runaway June. Fans who bought a ticket
for the tour were able to redeem a copy of the album as part of the ever-growing
trend of concert ticket/album sale redemption offers and also explained her
sizeable first week sales. 

Additionally,
she shared that she and her husband, Mike Fisher were expecting their second child. Since then she recently shared she had suffered three miscarriages in 2017 and 2018 and felt torn, frustrated and
angry.

Unfortunately for excited UK Carrie
fans the Before He Cheats singer was
forced to pull out of a fan event, The Long Road country music festival in
Leicestershire, England and BBC Radio 2’s Live in Hyde Park due to ill health
after having performed at Tuckerville festival in the Netherlands at the start
of September.

The album
kicks off with lead-off single Cry Pretty co-written with “A” list
songwriters Hillary
Lindse
y, Lori
McKenna
, and Liz
Rose
 (aka The Love Junkies). Starting off with a gentle
opening with its deeply brutally honest lyrics depict a lady’s vulnerabilities
which can’t be dressed up by lace and rhinestones: But sometimes my emotions get the best of me / And falling apart is as
human as it gets/ You can’t hide it, you can’t fight what the truth is

As the
chorus begins the powerhouse super-star vocalist cranks things in typical
fashion and by the end of the track unleashes a full-on high crescendo which
may be aimed at the arena audience. On the album it comes across as rather over
the top and may explain her No.9 Country Airplay peak following a string of No1
& No.2 singles dating back to 2005 in her post American Idol era. 

Ghosts On The
Stereo
might have an upbeat feel but the subject is dark despite throwin’ a party were
“records are spinnin’ and the speakers are smokin’”. As curtains are closed
shutting out the world this smacks of self-pity and desperation. Taking comfort
in the bottle, pain melts away like whiskey on ice, as retaining country
credentials, Underwood namechecks greats Hank, Merle Haggard and Georges Jones.

Low(co-written with David
Garcia, Hillary Lindsey) is another number, despite crunching guitar riffs,
evoking a hurtful place and a failed and tangled up relationship: Everything that was right is wrong, Ever
since, baby, you’ve been gone.

The
lonesome is painful in a place where the sun don’t shine whilst striving to
overcome and escape life’s lows.

Backslidingauthored by the same trio,
begins with an eerie feel and tells of cheating. There are a million reasons
why the relationship should be a happy one but too many deceitful waters have
passed under the small town bridge and a relationship hits the rocks, it’s
over!

Southboundis an upbeat, stomping,
shameless good time song and outside of Carrie’s normal comfort zone. Or, is she
secretly a closet weekend party animal hangin’ out with pals trying to catch
the eyes of those pretty boys on a pontoon boat where redneck margaritas are 2
for 1 at that old marina as the rock guitars melt that Tennessee honey. This
raunchy affair feels like Underwood has entered a dated Bro-Country time warp.

That Song
That We Used To Make Love To
(co-writers Hillary Lindsey, Jason Evigan) is R&B
flavoured with modern production. Alone in bed and unable to shake off a past
fling, the regretful song “playing on repeat” recalls a haunting sordid affair:
Where you laid my body down, and then got
drunk on me like wine

Drinking
Alone
is a slow jam with some welcome dobro touches where the character is pictured
holed-up in a late-night honky-tonk shedding tears and getting wasted drowning
away the pain. She ain’t lookin’ for those pick-up lines. Misery is the company
here unless a stranger’s corner booth whisky kisses (with a similar problem),
can help blank out the fact her man has left never to return.

The gentle
acoustic guitar stirrings on The Bullet (writers Marc Beeson,
Andy Albert, Allen Shamblin) set the funeral scene on a potent and heart-wrenching
track and something that could have been penned in the wake of the 2017 Route
91 Harvest shooting. Carrie making something of a political statement cranks up
the anguish with a soaring vocal as a family’s loss of a favourite son is felt.
A life sadly taken away far too soon and a future filled with special memories are
stolen in an instance: You can blame it
on hate or blame it on guns, But mamas ain’t supposed to bury their sons, Left
a hole in her heart and it still ain’t done, The bullet keeps on goin’

Spinning
Bottles
is an album standout and immediately effecting with the plain but deep piano
chords where the dark subject accounts the struggles of alcoholism where a
loving and frantic wife worries about an out of control husband on those all to
frequent three-day benders, unable to give up the demon drink.

Love Winsis the sets second single currently impacting country radio.
The powerful ballad full of hope in a mixed up and crazy political world song
is a little on the preachy side as it strives to cut through the madness

End Up With
You
is
a carefree pop number, which points at deceit, where the character is happy for
a lover to “light up the dark side of the moon” and commit herself, but is the
feeling reciprocated?

Kingdomhas a forced hymn-like
deliver giving “thanks to the man upstairs”. Whilst looking for a genuine
solution Carrie takes her audience to church thankful for beautiful times that
come around.

Bonus track
The
Champion
affirms the R&B and hip-hop vibes which threads through
Cry Pretty’s mix. It provided NBC television as a fist-pumping opening theme
for the January 2018 broadcast of Super Bowl LII.

Overall
there is a feeling of being disconnected with the artist. The word was that it
was to be a “personal” and “real” project and its themes of drinking, cheating,
partying, and desperation is at odds as to how Carrie’s private life is
perceived as a role model, with a loving family, projecting a caring mother a
with strong Christian convictions and beliefs.

Were these
songs co-written when she was at a low point as there was no indication that
they were to be observational playing a third person character role? 

Essential
Download: “Spinning Bottles”, “The Bullet”

Adrian
Clark for Country Music News International.

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