Carrie Marie Underwood was born on March 10, 1983 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She was the winner of Season 4 of American Idol. Her first album SOME HEARTS came out in 2005. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart and at #2 on the Billboard 200. It included the now famous song ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’. Over the years she has had many more hits including ‘Something in the Water’. Carrie married now Nashville Predators hockey player Mike Fisher in 2010. Together they have one child, Isaiah Michael Fisher, born on February 27, 2015. In 2013 Carrie starred as Maria von Trapp in NBC’s ‘The Sound of Music Live!’ STORYTELLER is the fifth studio album by this 7 time Grammy winner. It was produced by Jay Joyce, Mark Bright, and Zach Crowell and came out in 2015 on Arista Nashville/19 Recordings Ltd. Carrie shares: “I feel like one of the things that sets country music apart from other types of music is the storytelling aspect. I want three-and-a-half minute movies on the radio. I love that there’s a beginning, middle, and an end, and it all makes sense. You can follow the characters, and you can see it all playing out in your head”.
The first song, ‘Renegade Runaway’, was written by Carrie, Chris DeStefano, and Hillary Lindsey. This is one of six songs Carrie co-writes. It is an energetic country/rock song that serves as a bold warning to guys about the type of girl to avoid: “Looks like an angel, so picturesque/Like she walked right out of the Wild, Wild West/She’s a devil in a satin dress/You don’t even know her hair trigger’s aiming right at your chest/By the time you figure out that she gave you the runaround/You won’t know where she’s at/She’s a tumble weed blowing in the wind come sundown/Call a girl like that/Renegade runaway”. ‘Dirty Laundry’ is delivered with attitude and is addressed to a guy who cheats: “That lipstick on your collar/Well, it ain’t my shade of pink/And I can tell by the smell of that perfume/It’s like forty dollars too cheap.../All those midnights sneaking in/I’m late again, oh I’m so sorry/All the Ajax in the world ain’t gonna clean your dirty laundry”. Jimmy Nichols plays piano and former White Heart member Chris McHugh plays drums on ‘Church Bells’, which has a modern country groove to it. It deals with domestic abuse and violence: “Jenny was hosting Junior League parties/And having dinner at the country club/Everyone thought they were Ken and Barbie/But Ken was always getting way too drunk/Saturday night after a few too many/He came home ready to fight/And all his money could never save Jenny/From the devil living in his eyes/It was all bruises covered in makeup, dark sunglasses”.
‘Heartbeat’ is a sentimental love song that makes use of banjo, cello, pedal steel, and dobro: “And tonight I wanna drive so far/We’ll only find static on the radio, oh/And we can’t see those city lights/And I love the way you look in a firefly glow/Saying everything without making a sound/A cricket choir in the background/Underneath the harvest moon/Standing on your shoes in my bare feet/Dancing to the rhythm of your heartbeat”. ‘Smoke Break’ is the album’s catchy, anthem-like lead single. It acknowledges that we all need time to relax and take a breather sooner or later: “She’s a small town, hard working woman just trying to make a living/Working three jobs, feeding four little mouths in a run down kitchen/When you’re never taking nothing and doing nothing but giving/It’s hard to be a good wife and a good mom and a good Christian/She said ‘I don’t drink, but sometimes I need a stiff drink/Sipping from a highball glass, let the world fade away’/She said ‘I don’t smoke, but sometimes I need a long drag/Yeah, I know it might sound bad, but sometimes I need a smoke break’”.
Jason White wrote the groovy number known as ‘Choctaw County Affair’. Travis Meadows plays harmonica on it, while The McCrary Sisters provide background vocals. The lyrics tell a sordid story: “Well, life’s been kinda trippy down here in Mississippi/Since Cassie O’Grady disappeared/And me and Bobby Shaver been in all the newspapers every day for nigh on a year/They say we got tangled in a love triangle/A fatal game of truth or dare/But the truth remains a mystery and now it’s ancient history/It’s a Choctaw County affair”. Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, and Liz Rose wrote ‘Like I’ll Never Love You Again’. It is a passionate, but not dirty, ballad: “Let’s make this night last forever/Like honey dripping sweet and slow/Every kiss just tasting better/Every touch, every whisper, let go/I wanna love you like the world’s gonna stop/Till the very last second, last tick of that clock/I’m gonna slow it all down and then take you from zero to ten/Yeah, I wanna love you like I’ll never love you again”.
‘Chaser’ comes in at 4 minutes and 24 seconds. It’s the only track here that is at least four minutes long! This is the song of one who demands total allegiance and devotion from her guy: “Yeah, boy you’re nothing but a chaser/You’re looking at me and thinking of her and it cuts me like a razor/And you ain’t doing me any kind of favors/Sticking around this one horse town tonight/You can follow her tracks/You can try to win her back/Put the miles on your tires till you run out of gas/I’m done letting you be my heart breaker/So go ahead and chase her”. Ben Caver, Sara Haze, and Brett James wrote ‘Relapse’. Many who have trouble staying away from a former love interest even though they know they’re not right for them, will be able to relate to these words: “I know I said, I said it was over/But it’s hard when I miss you to stay sober/So if I show up here at your door again/Oh, it’s just me falling off of the wagon/What can it hurt?”
Ashley Cleveland’s husband Kenny Greenberg plays electric guitar on the country/pop track ‘Clock Don’t Stop’. It serves as a reminder that each moment in our lives is important and precious: “And the minutes turn to hours/And they’re flying like a jet plane/And we’ll make it right tomorrow/But tomorrow’s not a sure thing/The clock don’t stop tickin’ away, yeah/The clock don’t stop tickin’ away, away/Always hanging on the wall/No, it don’t care at all/It won’t slow down, it won’t wait”. Charlie Judge plays accordion, and Ilya Toshinskiy, the mandolin, on ‘The Girl You Think I Am’. It is a heart-tugging song of gratitude to Carrie’s earthly father: “I thank God for a father’s love/’Cause you think I’m brave and you think I’m beautiful/You think that I can do the impossible/You always see the best in me when I can’t/I wanna be the girl you think I am/Oh, oh, the girl you think I am/All I want more than anything is to make you proud of me”.
‘Mexico’ was penned by Kathleen Higgins, Jamie Moore, and Derrick Adam Southerland. It is a lively country song that tells a realistic tale about a couple of outlaws: “If they get the cuffs on us, it’s twenty-five to life/Run, run your own direction/It might lead ‘em down a different road/Take the gun, hide the car and the money/I’ll meet you in Mexico.../Suntan, seaside, feeling that breeze blow/We’ll be sipping that smooth Don Julio”. On ‘What I Never Knew I Always Wanted’ Carrie gives thanks for her son and her husband: “Never pictured myself singing lullabies/Sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night/In the quiet, in the dark/You’re stealing every bit of my heart with your daddy’s eyes/What a sweet surprise”.
As per usual, Carrie’s vocals on this, her latest project, are strong and powerful. She is hands down one of the best vocalists in mainstream music today! The songs on this record are sometimes drawn from her own life experiences, but more often than not, they are, as the album’s title implies, stories. Not only that, they are stories with a moral or lesson to them. Carrie is a born again Christian, a light in the darkness, if you will, in her chosen profession. STORYTELLER is a well above average modern country album, with several songs that her fans will latch on to for years to come. Carrie is very photogenic, as the CD booklet proves. I’m rating this CD 93%. For more info visit: www.carrieunderwood.fm and www.carrieunderwoodofficial.com.