At a certain point, artists reach a level when introductions are no longer necessary. For Carrie Underwood, this is most definitely true.
From her first moments on “American Idol” to the release of her most recent album, Underwood has become instantly recognizable. Throughout her career, Underwood’s tracks have perpetrated far past country radio onto mainstream stations across the United States.
For some, the seven-time Grammy winner’s greatest moments come from her strikingly powerful country ballads like “Jesus Take The Wheel.” For others, however, the highlight is the vocalist’s undeniable ability to arouse audiences through pounding rock country beats like “Undo It” and “Cowboy Casanova.” This is the place most characteristically relevant on Underwood’s latest record.
Titled “Storyteller,” Underwood’s most recent release is an incredibly versatile compilation showcasing the astonishing vocal range of an artist in her prime. With ballads found in more uplifting and tender-based tracks like “The Girl You Think I Am” and “Heartbeat,” Underwood finds a perfect balance in vengefully rebellious bangers and more heartfelt ballads of love and loss.
On the opening track “Renegade Runaway,” Underwood blows open the doors to what proves to be an overall incredible album. Forceful from its opening until its end, “Renegade Runaway” is a whirlwind. In the vein of tracks like “Blown Away,” Underwood recognizes the model of not fixing what isn’t broken. This track is outstandingly engaging.
The lead single off of the album, titled “Smoke Break,” is a formidable anthem of stepping back. Through gained perspective, Underwood is unafraid and unabashed of the consequences of feeling overwhelmed. “Smoke Break” is a terrific single because of its relevance to more than just fans of the country genre. “Smoke Break” encapsulates our feelings of being engulfed by life’s labors.
For many country artists, the symbolism of outlaws and getaways are a mainstay. For Underwood’s track “Mexico,” this rings true. Listeners will undeniably be placed into the plot of “Mexico.” Edgy and nostalgic, the melody of this song portrays an Underwood that borderlines the rock genre.
The album’s greatest track comes in the form of “Choctaw County Affair.” Thumping and atmospheric, “Choctaw County Affair” paints a picture of vindictive fierceness much like Underwood’s early hit “Before He Cheats.” Like musical fire, every moment of “Choctaw County Affair” is more bewitching than the next. This song is perfect in every way. From Underwood’s long runs to the simplistic beat that climaxes in the track’s final moments, “Choctaw County Affair” is a seismic masterpiece.
As noted, “Storyteller” does not come without its fair share of slow burning melodies. Songs like “The Girl You Think I Am” and “Heartbeat” fill the space of endearment that is less prevalent on “Storyteller.” For these softer beats and ones like “Chaser,” Underwood continues to put out music that is inherently enthralling. These tracks never disappoint. Even in pointing them out, it’s apparent that Underwood is unable to make a powerhouse melody that underwhelms.
Underwood is more than one of the greatest country artists of all time; she is one of the greatest musical artists of all time, period. Her talent is undying and incredible. Her ability to sing tracks that not only tell a story but also draw in listeners is nearly unparalleled. For an artist like Underwood, ”Storyteller” is simply one step in the continuing story of a masterful repertoire towards a lasting imprint on the music industry.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5