Storyteller marks Carrie Underwood’s return to music

Top-selling American Idol winner and country singer Carrie Underwood is looking to return to the music industry with a bang. Her last album, Blown Away, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim, giving her more than enough time to create more hits. After giving birth to her first child with husband Mike Fisher in April, Underwood is ready to release her latest album this Friday — Storyteller.

“Smoke Break” is the standout single from the 13-song album. The single pays homage to hardworking people who just need a break, with the opening lines, “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.” Underwood’s vocals are breathtaking, and the lyrical content demonstrates so much depth. Many will be able to relate to this song.

“Renegade Runaway,” the opening track from the album, is a surprise hit, as Underwood’s vocals and the instrumentals are incredibly strong. It’s an Old Western storytelling song with a catchy beat. “Heartbeat,” on the other hand, is softer than the previous powerhouse songs; a strong welcome back to laidback country music. Underwood’s vocals have a strong country sound to them, but she is able to encapsulate a lullaby-esque sound. “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” is a ballad that Underwood co-wrote with acclaimed songwriters Brett James and Hillary Lindsey about her husband and son. The lyrics are sweet and soulful, as Underwood speaks about singing lullabies to her son and loving his resemblance to his father, with lines such as, “I didn’t know there was a hole / Something missing in my soul / ‘Til you filled it up with your love.” “Like I’ll Never Love You Again” returns to that ’90s and early 2000s country jam that Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were able to perfect with their duets. This is a great love song, as well as another soft contribution to  the album.

However, one disappointment was some of the far-fetched tales in some of the songs. In “Mexico,” for instance, Underwood sings about telling her partner-in-crime to “look for the golden sombrero” and that if they get caught, they’ll get “25 to life.” Aside from the subtle deviations, Underwood’s tone is consistent but doesn’t carry enough edge to make the song feel believable.

Underwood has a great voice and is certainly one of the more memorable in country music in the last decade. In 10 years, she has been able to go from being a complete unknown country girl to one of the most powerful country singers of our time. That’s an incredible feat, and Underwood shows no signs of letting up with the fantastic album that is Storyteller. She is able to combine other people’s stories while remaining true to her country roots. Though some songs are inconsistent, the album generally feels put together and in place and is, without a doubt, one of Underwood’s stronger records. Underwood is able to achieve worldwide domination without necessarily trying to strive for it — she just does what she knows: show up, write amazing songs and perform them fantastically.