Carrie Underwood, BLOWN AWAY

It's time for some new popular country music with Blown Away, the fourth album from American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. This album features the singer's mix of vocal talent and earnest -- if sometimes cliched -- lyrics, plus a surprising dark side.

While Blown Away's first single "Good Girl" is the same sort of this-man-is-scum anthem as Underwood has done plenty of times (from "Before He Cheats" to "Cowboy Casanova"), she keeps exploring darker themes as the album opens: The title track is about a past with an abusive alcoholic father, followed by "Two Black Cadillacs" about a man's wife and mistress meeting at his funeral.

With that out of the way, the rest of the album goes on to lighter themes. There are nostalgic looks back as past loves, with songs like "Do You Think about Me," "The Good in Goodbye," and "Wine after Whisky." There are sentimental songs, like "Forever Changed" and "Thank God for Hometowns." And there are lighter tunes: "Nobody Ever Told You" is a don't-be-superficial female affirmation, "One Way Ticket" is a song about enjoying life (with a slight reggae sound!) and Underwood even tries for a Southern humor take on love with "Cupid's Got a Shotgun."

While I give credit to Carrie Underwood for going to some dark places, the rest of Blown Away is unsurprising -- but srill nice. Underwood has a very powerful voice, and she sings with passion throughout the album (even if the lyrics are fairly routine). Blown Away isn't an exceptional album, but it has plenty of good songs.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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