The sixth studio album from American Idol alum, Carrie Underwood, was released September 14, 2018, with her single titled album, Cry Pretty.
At 50:26 in length, there is a lot to cover in this Country Pop, R&B crossover and spoiler alert – Carrie Underwood nails it.
The album leans toward a more mature sound with country undertones and heavy R&B influences in songs like Backsliding, That Song That We Used To Make Love To and The Champion (feat. Ludacris).
The country #1 single, Cry Pretty (not the album title), released in April earlier this year and was a morsel of a bigger set of delectable sounds that paint an almost immaculate tapestry of woven art.
Carrie’s emblematic belting prowess is heard in every song of the album, but surprisingly it all works.
Being a fan of Carrie Underwood for the past 13 years, having been in a movie with her, and gone to 4 concerts previously, Cry Pretty has a set of throwaway songs similar to her previous chronological album, Storyteller.
However, I’ll let you be the judge.
The album is available on Amazon containing 13 tracks and I’ll be giving a snippet of my thoughts on each one. Come along with me on an eclectic musical journey with one of country music’s most decorated artists.
Cry Pretty by Carrie Underwood Tracks
Cry Pretty – With its effervescent bass line and a single snare beat, Cry Pretty has a haunting sound that compliments well with its lyrical story. Underwood belts in normal Carrie fashion with a crescendoing build up that tops the song at an emotional peak. She ends with a belting ad lib that shows us why this song hit #1.
Ghost On The Stereo – Ghost has a nice classical country sound but the hook and chorus become highly interpretive which can leave the listener confused. What is going on? I have no idea. The pedal steel guitar keeps it country and it’s a nice song you’d most likely play while kicking back and drinking a glass of Tennessee Whiskey.
Low – A vulnerable vocal that has a slight rock gospel sound with a percussion accompaniment. Carrie throws in strong acrobatic vocals that may help the listener get into the song. However, at the end of it all quickly becomes a throwaway.
Backsliding – We enter into the R&B region of Cry Pretty. Backsliding is quite literally about hooking up where two people are unable to keep from…ahem…getting it on. The song is very listenable and sets the perfect mood for music you’d play in the background of *brown-chicken-brown-cow*.
Southbound – An upbeat song which is an obvious winner and easily a top five song of the album. The beauty of Southbound is that it sounds like a song you’d hear driving along the coast of California, but contains lyrics that are more country than sitting in a seat at the Grand Ole Opry.
That Song That We Used To Make Love To – Another R&B/Pop set by Underwood and it’s not surprising that once again it’s about love making (I’m starting to think there’s a pattern here). The pop sounds come during the chorus with a seemingly stock sounding drum track and a lot of lyrics fitting into one breath/phrase. It could have easily been the top song of the album, but unfortunately, it simply misses the mark. It’s catchy but after a few listens, the feels of the song slowly fade away.
Drinking Alone – A sassy at-the-bar R&B song that explores the topic of alcoholism. The song has a nice gritty vibe that brings the listeners back to the “Before He Cheats” days.
The Bullet – A light country folky song that covers gun violence and talks about the aftermath of what possibly happens when a life is taken by a bullet. These are the deep songs that really make Underwood who she is and it’s here where she truly shines. If you’re looking for a tear-jerker you’ve got it with The Bullet.
Spinning Bottles – An emotional pop mix with light piano sounds formatted in a country story teller lyric. This song may not win any awards, but it should. It is that good.
Love Wins – Announced as the second single of Cry Pretty, Love Wins has already hit the top 25 on iTunes and charted on the Billboard Top 100. A Celine Dion melodic-style song that acts as an anthem of hope is catchy and will do well playing in the mainstream. The song could be played on any Adult Contemporary station and will be played for years to come. Similar to songs like “So Small“, “Till I See You Again” and other Top AC songs put out by Underwood, it will surely “win” a lot of fans over.
End Up With You – My absolute favorite song on the album. I’ve already played this song 73 times, according to my iTunes account. This song is the perfect combination of instrumentation, lyrics (that actually make sense) and vocal layering. The song is romantic, sexy, and whimsical. The electrical guitar pierces right though your emotions transporting you to the exact experience that Underwood sings about. It should be a single. Will it be a single? Probably not. Similar to “Wasted“, depending on how popular Cry Pretty becomes, I can see the song being released as a fifth single. Thank you Lindsey, Brett McLaughlin and Will Weatherly for writing such an incredible song.
Kingdom – A very close second to the top, Kingdom is the traditional tribute to God song that appears on every Carrie Underwood album. It’s a song you’d likely hear on a Christian radio station and iis easily one of the best out of all six studio albums.
The Champion (feat. Ludacris) – The official song of Super Bowl LII which is included as a bonus track on Cry Pretty. NBC Execs liked the song so much that they decided to use it for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Then after its Olympic run, it was later used as the anthem for Sunday Night Football. My personal opinion is that songs like these are out of Underwood’s element. That said, it was the sports song of 2018 and certified Gold by the RIAA, so from an objective perspective, it made sales, was marketed well and went on to sell thousands. The song also won Video Female Of The Year at the CMT Music Awards.
Cry Pretty showcases Underwood’s growth as an artist. She displays a mature tone, using the vehicle of mainstream music to touch upon ever-present topics that range from gun violence to same-sex relationships, to alcoholism. She also talks about sex tastefully in a way that only someone like Underwood could pull off without appearing wishy-washy; especially covering a broad set of topics.
If you’re looking for a number one hit to sit atop Billboard’s Top 40 Hits, you won’t find it here. Will she earn the top spot on the Billboard Top 200 album charts? More than likely.
Cry Pretty is Carrie Underwood wrapped up in a nice pretty bow and since joining her new label, Capitol Records Nashville, welcoming a new baby into her life and facing adversity from her accident in 2017, she illustrates to all of us what it feels like to Cry Pretty.