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Carrie Underwood – “Blown Away”

15 Jun

Songwriters:  Chris Tompkins, Josh Kear

Though Carrie Underwood has released a fair amount of tepid material over the past few years, her new album Blown Away hints strongly at a restless creative spirit beginning to bubble up underneath that powerhouse voice.  This is particularly evident on the album’s title track, which has been slated as its second single.

With this ambitious new release, Underwood ventures into the thematic territory of domestic abuse with a harrowing tale of a girl claiming revenge on her violent alcoholic father.  When a twister touches down on the family’s Oklahoma residence, the protagonist takes cover in the cellar while her father lies passed out on the couch, allowing the storm-ravaged house to collapse on top of him.  The lyric invests a sense of symbolism in the events it describes, building on effective metaphors between the destruction of the house, and the protagonist moving on in the wake of her tortured past.  It adds up to one of the most complex and engaging lyrics Underwood has tackled yet, which will undoubtedly make it a sharp standout on country radio.

Though “Blown Away” doesn’t quite reach the spine-tingling heights of Martina McBride’s flawless “Independence Day,” it represents significant growth as an interpretive singer on Underwood’s part, as she gives an empathetic delivery that imparts a sense of humanity to the desperate protagonist who takes extreme measures to preserve herself.  Though it’s all too easy for a big-voiced singer of Underwood’s caliber to veer off toward ill-advised power notes, “Blown Away” finds her striking a balance between power and nuance, ably stepping up to the role of a storyteller as well as a singer.

Why producer Mark Bright felt to need to slap on unnecessary, distracting reverb effects on Underwood’s otherwise solid vocal is anybody’s guess.  It doesn’t necessary sink the record, but it acts as a barrier between the song and the listener, and it takes focus off of Underwood’s committed, dynamic performance.  Other than that, the arrangement, which tastefully incorporates a few orchestral touches, is generally effective at conveying a sense of intensity and urgency to fit the dark lyric.

“Blown Away” may be a bit rough around the edges, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of Underwood’s most interesting and challenging single releases to date.

CARRIE’S SCORE:  8
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

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7 Comments

Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Single Reviews

 

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7 responses to “Carrie Underwood – “Blown Away”

  1. Walker

    June 15, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    I am impressed with this song. I’m not terribly crazy about the Intro but the lyrics, arrangement and vocal performance are top notch. I applaud her for releasing a single that is totally different sounding and has such an epic story line and feel to it.

     
  2. Anonymous

    June 16, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    I like the theme of this song a lot. It’s definitely a lot more interesting thematically than many of the songs she’s released in the past, which is exciting. I’m happy that she’s diving at least somewhat into more challenging material. Some of the lyrics bother me, however…I don’t like the “sweet revenge” part as that’s such a cliche phrase and for something as serious as the subject matter of the song, it doesn’t quite ring true for me. I feel like someone who has been abused would have much, much more complicated feelings about the death of their abuser than just “sweet revenge.” To reduce it down to a cheap phrase like that is rather insulting to the subject matter. That bothers me immensely. But overall, thematically I find the song impressive. I have trouble actually listening to the song though, as I can’t stand the production. It’s a bit loud and overdone for me. Some parts of it are just too much for my taste. In case it isn’t obvious by now, I’m really picky, and I think I’m probably in the minority regarding my issues with this song. I’d love to see a semi-acoustic version.

     
  3. Vicki Ross Fish

    June 16, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    I love this song for it has such meaning. It’s a good country story song as opposed to fluff like “undo it”. I have been so impressed with “Blown Away” the album in that there are many more good country written songs then the “extra light stuff”. Way to go Carrie! I hope it wins a country album on the year award this year!

     
  4. Lynn

    June 17, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    Ben, do you think this will be well-received by country radio? The storyline is classic country, but the instrumentation is not. I hope it will do really well. Like you said, this is one of the most interesting releases from Carrie. Being an uber fan that I am lol, I cringed when Undo It and Mama’s Song were released as singles.

     
    • Ben Foster

      June 21, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      I don’t see the instrumentation being an issue, since relatively little of the music played by country radio has prominent country instrumentation anyway. The lyrical content is not the kind that is typically favored by radio these days, but I think that as far as country radio is concerned, Carrie Underwood can do no wrong. A song like “Blown Away” would be a bigger risk if it were coming from a newer artist not having the established presence Underwood has at radio. I’ve been wrong before, but personally I would be very surprised if “Blown Away” were to interrupt Underwood’s streak of successful singles.

       
      • classdepartments

        September 1, 2012 at 10:02 PM

        Interesting enough, even though “Blown Away” is now #14 on the country chart, I still have not heard it once on my local country radio even though I have asked it to be played. Perhaps country radio is use to the rock and roll songs with the country voice as opposed to the country song with a power voice.

         
  5. Occasional Hope

    June 18, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    It’s the first time I’ve heard Carrie doing something wth real depth lyrically, but I don’t care for the sound of the record at all.

     

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