REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/30/2007
I am by no means an American Idol expert. My wife watches American Idol in one room and I watch NCIS in another. However, I am very aware of Carrie Underwood, and not just because her songs are played consistently or her first disc sold six million copies.
Underwood has several things going for her. She has a great clear and powerful voice that can overwhelm the listener. She presents a good image on stage and comes across well in person. She seems to know who she is and what she is about, classifying herself as a country singer who veers toward straight pop on occasion.
So how do you follow one of the best selling albums of the decade? By producing more of the same. Carnival Of Sound is an extension of the first album, which is good because of the high quality but bad because, well, it's more of the same. Underwood can probably continue to release an album every year and remain immensely popular, but eventually people may ask if that's all there is to her.
The first three songs of Carnival Ride present Underwood at her best. “Flat On The Floor” shows an excellent combination of pop and country, the pop vocals laying against a rock guitar with a country foundation. “All American Girl” is a song with a story, where Carrie gets to belt out the chorus with increasing power. She co-wrote that song, actually, which holds out promise for an album of originals that could all be as good as this one.
Several other highlights include "So Small," the playful “Last Name” and “I Know You Won’t,” featuring sparse instrumental accompaniment and putting the focus squarely upon Underwood’s vocals.
The middle of Carnival Ride tends to drag. This is, as mentioned earlier, because of the similarity between songs. Songs like “You Won’t Find This,” I Told You So,” The More Boys I Meet” and “Twisted” just seem to run together. There is nothing offensive here but rather just sameness. Right now, Underwood is terrific in short bursts, but she proves here that she can't sustain the charm and goodwill through an entire album yet.
Yet overall, Carnival Ride is a very good sophomore album. It certainly has more strong points than weak points. Carrie Underwood, even when she is just average, is better than most artists of her type, and as she matures as an artist she will hopefully build on the excellent foundation laid with this disc.