Carrie Underwood has a lovely country-pop voice and a winningly sweet, self-effacing manner. Yet you'd be hard-pressed to assign her an artistic personality beyond that.
Certainly, the songs on her new album, Blown Away (* * * out of four) cover a range of emotions and experience, and Underwood co-wrote some intriguing ones. In the pulsing Two Black Cadillacs, a man's widow and mistress meet at his funeral after sharing a secret phone conversation; Good in Goodbye charts a failed romance with two happy endings.
Underwood's singing, as usual, is impeccable — technically supple and elegant but full of girlish pluck. Even when working a clichéd concept, she's at once impressive and authentic.
That's not quite the same thing as exciting. But at 29, Underwood still has a lot of growing to do; Blown Away both reaffirms her natural gifts and makes us continue to root for her to push beyond them.
>Download:Good in Goodbye, Two Black Cadillacs