Nearly every week, we round up the all-important, all-summarizing last sentences of the biggest new-music reviews. Today’s entry is Carrie Underwood’s second album, Carnival Ride:
• “She’s not wrong, though, to believe that one of her high notes is enough to make everything else seem inconsequential. In ‘Crazy Dreams,’ one of a few songs she helped write, there’s an electric guitar and a jolly banjo and an inspirational message: ‘Here’s to you longshots, you dark horse runners/Hairbrush singers and dashboard drummers.’ Yes, it sounds like a TV commercial. But there’s a good reason TV commercials sound like that.” [NYT]
• “It’s hard to be this blank a slate for this long a time, but Underwood clearly works at it. She’s trying to be a singer, not a personality–kind of refreshing, in a time when private lives so often triumph over public work. But as nice as Carnival Ride has turned out, Underwood will simply be going around in circles until she invests a little more of herself into the process.” [Newsday]
• “With more than 20 instruments listed in her liner notes, plus the 28 players that made up the Nashville String Machine, this effort brings in everything that keeps the music traditional while allowing it cross genre boundaries. That, fused with her vocals, makes for a solid album that transcends country.
Still, the odds are not on Underwood’s side. Her debut album Some Hearts sold almost six million copies, but most country artists with an initial success like that never reach it again. Carnival Ride is good. But is it good enough, and country enough, to break her own record?” [Chicago Tribune]
• “That’s the crux of the problem with Carnival Ride. It’s less a second album than a pale continuation of the first album. Nothing Underwood attempts here indicates an ambition or desire to push outside of the neat, clean image she’s carefully sculpted over the last 24 months. That title is appropriate in more ways than one — you hear the new tunes and stumble off almost an hour later, dizzy and slightly nauseated.” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]