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Album review: Carrie Underwood’s ‘Blown Away’

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Seven years after she won the fourth season of ‘American Idol,’ Carrie Underwood has been a top-tier country star for long enough that she can advise a friend to ‘turn off the static on the TV’ (as she does in her new album’s pep-talky ‘Nobody Ever Told You’) without sounding like an ingrate. Yet if Underwood has undoubtedly established herself beyond the talent-show realm, she’s been less successful embodying a persona more complex than Top-Tier Country Star: When Mitt Romney published a playlist of favorite campaign-trail tunes in March, it made sense that the sometimes-wooden presidential hopeful included Underwood’s ‘All-American Girl.’

‘Blown Away,’ the singer’s fourth album, has been described as a turn toward darkness from a singer who first topped the country chart with ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel.’ And insofar as the moody title track finds her willing death-by-tornado upon an abusive father, that’s true. (Elsewhere, ‘Two Black Cadillacs’ offers a bleaker spin on the revenge fantasy in Underwood’s 2006 smash ‘Before He Cheats.’) Mostly, though, ‘Blown Away’ finds her using her remarkable voice to deliver feel-good bromides like those in the lightly reggae-inflected ‘One Way Ticket’: ‘Life is like a ride on a party bus,’ ‘It matters where you’re going, not where you been,’ ‘We’re headed to a heaven where the beat don’t stop.’ Who knew the victor’s circle would be so dull?

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Carrie Underwood
‘Blown Away’
19/Arista Nashville
Two stars (Out of four)

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-- Mikael Wood

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