CD Review: Carrie Underwood

Carnival Ride Arista
Music ••½ Sound •••

There's no question that Carrie has a voice made for these country-pop times. Still, maybe because she shares the Underwood name with an old typewriter company, I can't help but think in word-processor terms to describe her singing on this follow-up to Some Hearts. Virtually everything coming out of this American Idol bears the imprint of some formatting: bold here, italics there, and - just in case your attention starts drifting on these mostly assembly-line songs - lots of ALL CAPS VOCALIZING. From the optimistic grandeur of "Crazy Dreams" to the sass-seeking "Last Name," Underwood plows her way through Carnival Ride with admirable energy and willfulness. But until terms like nuance and subtlety show up on her style menu, and she learns the value of "plain text" singing, she's destined to be, as they say, a child of clay.

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