Carrie Underwood is back with her amazing new album ‘Cry Pretty’. Members of the Belles and Gals team have got together to write an ‘in the round’ review, where several team members get together and write about a particular song that is close to their heart. Here’s our look at ‘’Cry Pretty’
Low – Megan Roberts (twitter.com/megwritesalot)
‘Low’ is an extremely emotive song that captures feeling down in powerful metaphors. There are so many sad songs out there, and this is a fresh outlook which finds new ways to describe a complex feeling in a straightforward way. My favourite thing about this is the vocal and instrumental progression throughout. The track starts with minimalistic guitar and then builds at a gradual pace, giving Carrie an opportunity to express emotion in her strong voice. I also really like the traditional country ‘twang’ in the background which is the icing on the cake of this well-rounded song.
Kingdom – Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)
Cowritten by her alongside hugely successful Nashville writer Chris DeStefano ( who has already had multiple cuts on Carrie’s previous albums, including Something In The Water and Smoke Break) and the city’s Dave Barnes ( a prolific recording artist in his own right, who has written for numerous country artists including Danielle Bradbury, Blake Shelton, Terri Clark and Reba) this track is a touching tribute to her home and family, aka her “Kingdom”. Lyrically there’s consequently a lot of syrupy sweetness at times which I guess may attract criticism from some quarters, but I’m taking that with a large pinch of salt in this review!
While there’s no doubt that Carrie is one of the vocal powerhouses when it comes to female country artists today, which is evident in abundance on this album, sometimes I just want to hear the sweet, understated side of her voice and this is what happens at the start of this song. With just simplest of acoustic guitar and haunting steel accompaniment, she gently sings about what makes her home special to her in the first verse, things like “the creaky board on the front porch” and “the kitchen table where we say our prayers”. This simplicity continues in the first chorus, which contains the beautiful lines about her home being “ perfectly imperfect, it’s worth more than it’s worth”.
With drums kicking in and her vocals stepping up a gear, we hear in verse two about the harder times that she still wouldn’t change as they’ve helped make her and her family who they are. The track progresses with fuller instrumentation and backing vocals ( which even seem to include a choir ) being added, which naturally means Carrie’s voice has to soar above this cacophony of sound, something she’s more than capable of doing of course when she sings about “ our names carved out in that old oak tree” and “ the love we have that will stand the test of time” .
But to tell you the truth I’d rather she hadn’t have had to, I’d love to hear this touching song a lot less produced and left as a simple, stripped back number which would have really contrasted with the rest of the album. But hey, what do I know? Anyway, things come back down again at the end, and the track ends as it begins arrangement wise .
Ghosts on the Stereo – Shannon Hynes (twitter.com/s_hynesmusic)
I just can’t get over this song, it is by far my favourite from Carrie’s record breaking ‘Cry Pretty’. I think this is due to the fact it is so so relatable, absolutely for me, anyway. I think any (of age, haha) country fan has sat in a dark room with a whiskey listening to their favourite records, it’s just how we are, right?
Ghosts on The Stereo sets the mood for this kind of environment perfectly. With the heavy instrumentation and the lonesome lyrics, the tears really start rolling along with the beautifully flowing melodies as the song lets your heart open up and feel the pain that may lie within. Paying tribute to the greatest of the greats in country music (not the females, mind) and clearly taking inspiration, this song is a stand out of every Carrie Underwood song, for me. I would really love her to release this as a single, just imagine how gorgeous that music video would be.
Spinning Bottles – Nick Cantwell (twitter.com/nickbelles_gals)
Spinning Bottles starts with a simple piano in the background providing the perfect backdrop to the incredible voice that Carrie has – I’m not sure there is a vocal powerhouse as good as Carrie in the entire music industry and it’s a joy to behold in every track of this album. Spinning Bottles is a tough listen and touches on the problems of addiction and in particular alcoholism. The song is in two parts, simply featuring ‘she’ and ‘he’. ‘She’ is at home worried, wondering where her husband/partner/boyfriend is – ‘She’s pacing the floor, she’s checking the time, wondering how the glow with that porch light hasn’t gone out for three days straight’. The song then cuts to a hotel room, where you’ll find ‘he’, wondering if the relationship is over and knowing he’d ‘quit if he could’.
The track builds and builds, with soaring strings added into the mix, to create a wonderfully powerful and emotional track.