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Friday, February 22nd
The Critics Corner: Albums
Play On
Carrie Underwood- Play On
Country starlet's third effort falls short of expectations
Name: "Play On"
Label: Arista Nashville
Release Date: November 03, 2009
My rating: 2.5 out of 5

Review written by: Kate Mikus
Carrie Underwood first wooed America on the fourth season of American Idol. Now, years later, she has transformed herself from an innocent, regular Oklahoma college student to a country music superstar. There are many female country artists out there right now who could only be deemed as competition- Taylor Swift, Julianne Hough and Kellie Pickler to name a few- but despite their successes, Carrie continues to stand out and shine among them. Carrie Underwood has recently released her third album, Play On.

Although not a country fan, I have always liked Carrie’s music so I was able to keep an open mind while listening. I am aware that music tastes vary and I have liked all of Carrie’s previous albums, however, I was thoroughly disappointed with Play On. I feel as if it was not up to par considering what Carrie can offer musically, lyrically and vocally.

The album started out with a song I really enjoyed, called Cowboy Casanova. It starts out with some amazing guitar rifts and sounds more like a rock than a country song. Carrie’s strong voice is dominant in this song not-so- surprisingly about her cowboy. In the bridge, there is a hint of violin which really makes Cowboy sound country. It is a fantastic song which gave me hope for the rest of the album; a song I could easily view myself dancing to at a concert.

Quitter, the second song was very interesting lyrically. It was almost as if I was listening to an audio tape, as I listened to Carrie sing a story about how “boy met girl and girl left boy”. Once again, the guitar lends an interesting feel to the song. The third song, Mama’s Song, slowed things down. It is a song from a daughter to her mother about how the mother needs to let her daughter fly and live this thing called life. Truthfully, this song made me tear up a bit. Whether or not the song was meant to invoke emotion, it did. It was all there in Carrie’s voice, the lyrics and the music.

The fourth song, Change, there is no other word for it, was boring. The song had a good message about someone wanting to change the world. However, I feel as if it could have been arranged differently musically. I’m not sure exactly, but I don’t think the song should have been as slow as it was. Songs five and six, Undo It and Someday When I Stop Loving You, were simply alright. Undo It sped things back up, likewise, Someday proceeded to slow things back down to a ballad. Carrie’s voice was strong in both songs, and once again, while I cannot pinpoint exactly what it was, there is something just not interesting about these songs.

Songs Like This, the seventh song, I thoroughly enjoyed. Things sped back up and Carrie proved exactly how strong and simply amazing her voice is with this track. I go camping every year, and every Saturday night, in a barn on the campground, square dancing is held, bringing out the cowboys and cowgirls of Pennsylvania. This track is one I could easily see myself, and any one of them, dancing to and having fun doing so. Songs eight and nine, Temporary Home and This Time, once again bored me. However, after several of these songs not tweaking my interest, I was finally able to pinpoint what it was about them that I did not like; musically, they all sound almost exactly the same. It is the same slow beat, same guitar rifts.

Look At Me and Unapologize were both slow as well. Look At Me I did not care much for, however, I really liked Unapologize. Carrie once again told a good story with a lesson behind it. It is a relationship story and it is up to you to figure out the meaning behind the song. The guitar and drums are excellent in this song, which has a lot of feeling to it.

The beginning of the twelfth song, What Can I Say, reminded me of a lullaby with the way the music was arranged. The band Sons of Sylvia is featured in this track alongside Carrie. The male voice is excellent and adds an excellent extra pizzazz to the song that I am not sure would have been there otherwise.

The album wraps up with the last song, Play On, which is also the name of the album. The song is neither good nor bad; just simply interesting. It has a steady tempo and the music is arranged nicely, further complementing Carrie’s voice. However, that is about it in terms of describing the song. There is nothing else to say.

I was truly surprised at how much I was both indifferent to and disliked this album. I have loved Carrie’s stuff in the past, so this album was disappointing to me. That’s not to say I disliked the entire album as I did like several of the songs, one of which invoked plenty of emotion. However, one thing held true: every song did tell a clear story, painted a picture for all of us to hear. Carrie’s voice continues to mature and get better as time goes on. While this may not be, in my opinion, her best work yet, there is no doubt in my mind we haven’t begun to see what Carrie Underwood is truly capable of.
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