AS THE UNIVERSE IMPATIENTLY WAITS FOR THE RETURN OF ADELE, THERE IS ANOTHER SUPERSTAR COMEBACK NOT TO BE OVERLOOKED. CARRIE UNDERWOOD REINVENTS THE WHEEL ON STORYTELLER.
By Dustin Shrader
The reigning queen of Country Carrie Underwood dropped her fifth full studio album Storyteller on Oct. 23, and the epic record lives up to the hype. Underwood also announced The Storyteller Tour: Stories in the Round, a 360-degree arena tour with audiences sitting on all sides of the stage. Yes, fans. Atlanta’s Carrie moment is coming.
Storyteller is the first complete compilation of music from the blonde siren since her stormy, platinum-selling Blown Away cycloned up the charts in 2012. Originally planned for a 2014 release, it was delayed due to Underwood’s pregnancy.
Never one to disappoint her CareBears, the singer tided everyone over by releasing a greatest hits album, featuring her plethora of No. 1 singles in addition to two chart-toppers, the inspiring, faith-based “Something in the Water,”and the rocker-ballad “Little Toy Guns.” It was just enough to quench the thirst of this year’s most anticipated album in Country music.
Like any good tale, Storyteller could be divided into two acts. The first six tracks are edgy and smokey, a set of stories that Underwood describes herself as “dirty,” a careening departure from her past Country-Pop straddlers. The second half tells Underwood’s most personal tales yet in her signature style.
The album opens as strong as you’d expect with the gritty outlaw-ish “Renegade Runaway” an uptempo number picture-perfect for Underwood’s magnanimous vocals. As the stage is set, the singer takes you along through her next couple of revenge dramas with the metaphorical “Dirty Laundry” and the seedy “Church Bells.” In the former, Underwood plays the scorned wife, airing her husband’s cheating discretions out to dry, clothes-pinning his secrets to the line.
The latter recalls the story of the beautiful Jenny who strikes it rich when she marries a wealthy, abusive oilman. Multiple bruises and dark sunglasses later, Jenny plots her freedom, praying in the back pew with the Baptists. Dear husband is deader than a doornail before those poignant church bells ring for the last time.
The cornerstone of the album, “Choctaw County Affair” is quite possibly a career-defining moment for Underwood. This swampy, blues rendition of a Bonnie and Clyde love-story takes you to the highest highs and the lowest of lows with one kick-ass harmonica solo courtesy of Travis Meadows.
Turning down the temperature for Storyteller’s final act, Carrie undeniably proves this is her most personal album yet. Die-hard fans will recognize the American Idol winner’s sound that they have come to cherish over the years. “Chaser,” “Relapse” and “Clock Don’t Stop” push Underwood’s limits, while still remaining true to her signatures. Sweet ballads, “Heartbeat,” “Like I’ll Never Love You Again” and “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted”open the doors into the her intimate world, lamenting her feelings about her own life, love and happiness.
All in all, Storyteller is a successful result of immaculate writing and commanding vocals, a balance most of Carrie’s peers fail to strike. She bridges the gap between Country’s past and present, keeping one eye on going big and the other on finessing the fine, musical arrangements and depth Storyteller encompasses. Five stars all the way.
Underwood brings her “Stories in the Round” tour to the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Ga., on Feb. 1, 2016. David Atlanta caught a sneak peak of what the superstar has in store during her surprise pop-up concert at the Variety Playhouse in September.
CMT was on hand to film the private performance for the network’s Instant Jams Concert Series. Our girl did not let us down. In addition to Storyteller hits like “Smoke Break,” Underwood crooned out her classics and took a couple of breaks to slow things down and chat with the audience. She was blown away by the response, which far exceeded her expectations. Underwood told us that she couldn’t be more blessed to do what she does and can’t wait to come back to Atlanta and bring all the stories of Storyteller with her.
Visit davidatlanta.com for a chance to win a free digital copy of Storyteller.
Visit carrieunderwoodofficial.com for more information on the album and tour.