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Carrie Underwood finds strength in sadness with new album ‘Cry Pretty’

Carrie Underwood finds strength in sadness with new album ‘Cry Pretty’

Carrie Underwood finds strength in sadness with new album ‘Cry Pretty’
September 24
13:00 2018

Carrie Underwood has had a difficult year. A tumble down some steps at her home last November left her with a facial injury that required more than 40 stitches, and she recently revealed she has suffered from three miscarriages since the beginning of 2017.

Usually when an artist returns with new music after a rough patch, they either deliver encouraging anthems about how they got through the hard times (a la Katy Perry) or depressing ballads that listeners can put on and cry along to (like Adele). With her new album “Cry Pretty,” Underwood is neither acting as an exuberant life coach nor is she wallowing. “Cry Pretty” is all about accepting adversity and sadness for what they are because you know they won’t last forever.

The album opens with the title track, which talks about how you can’t hide from pain. Underwood sings that “you can’t cry pretty,” and it is refreshing to hear a song tell you that it is OK to be upset and to show it to the world. This song, like several others on the album, begins sounding like a typical mid-tempo country ballad but then builds into something that’s more like a stadium rock anthem. The guitar solo at the end and Underwood’s “ow” that punctuates the ending drive this home.

“Ghosts on the Stereo,” a song about drinking and listening to music alone as comfort, and “Low” a song about feeling just that, are relatable slow-burning songs that have very soulful vocal deliveries.

“Backsliding,” “That Song That We Used To Make Love To” and “End up with You,” which appears later on, could easily fit in on pop radio and are great candidates for singles. “Backsliding” has amazing runs and shows off the full extent Underwood’s voice. “End Up with You” evokes the island pop sound that songs like “Shape of You Have” without sounding gimmicky.

“Southbound,” on the other hand, could not avoid that. This song is what people who completely avoid country music altogether think country sounds like. I thought this song was hilarious, and I have no idea how this made it onto the album with lyrics like, “we got a pontoon boat with a Yamaha/people dressed like they’re in Panama” and, “the fish ain’t bitin’ cause the party’s on.” There is also an exaggerated country phrasing that Underwood uses, and it is just distracting.

“Drinking Alone” acts as a sassy sequel to her classic “Last Name.” In “Last Name,” she “got served a little too much of that poison” and ended up marrying a stranger. In this song, she suggests she and a stranger “drink alone together” and aew miserable as a pair.

“Spinning Bottle” and “The Bullet” are beautiful ballads that appear toward the end of the album. “The Bullet” addresses the lasting impact that gun violence has on families. Underwood isn’t known for taking political stances, which is probably why this song doesn’t talk about the hotly discussed solutions to gun violence. The opening verse says that “you can blame it on hate or blame it on guns,” meaning that either way, the end result is tragedy. I thought this was an interesting perspective to take — focusing on the heartbreak of the individuals affected rather than politics. I personally enjoy when artists voice their opinions, and even though this song isn’t explicitly political, it still has a powerful message that everyone can appreciate.

“Love Wins” is another message of unity, but the song is a little cheesy. It comes across as a flat version of an inspirational power pop song such as like “Firework.”

The final two tracks, “Kingdom” and “The Champion” featuring Ludacris, are boring and don’t fit in with the theme of the album or the other songs.

Overall, “Cry Pretty” takes sadness and turns it into strength by treating it as an inevitable companion.

Standouts: “Cry Pretty,” “Backsliding” and “Ghosts on the Stereo”

Skip: “Southbound,” “Kingdom” and “The Champion”

My Rating: 3/5 

Featured Image: Courtesy Facebook

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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