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iTunes Review

This album is Mastered for iTunes. Carrie Underwood’s third studio album finds the former American Idol champ really coming into her own. As she exercises a heavier hand in cowriting the songs, her voice sounds more naturally fitted throughout. First, she takes care of some unfinished business left over from “Before He Cheats.” The saucy “Cowboy Casanova” is a boot-stomping twang-rocker with a scornful sentiment; it trains her lyrical crosshairs between the eyes of a wolf in Wrangler jeans and a 10-gallon Stetson. Cowritten with Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, “Mama’s Song” is a strong ballad with a gentle hook and powerful string section. Over this, Underwood applies her knack for voicing a captivating narrative—this time with backing vocals steeped in blue-eyed soul. DioGuardi proves a perfect songwriting companion—check out the rocking “Undo It,” where the duo cleverly leaves enough room for Underwood’s vocals to stretch out and strengthen this triumphant life-after-being-dumped anthem. Things cool down with “Temporary Home,” a touching serenade about mustering the power to rebuild one’s previously decimated life. She ends on a similarly self-strengthening title track.

Customer Reviews

Underwood plays on as she matures into a country music luminary

Fresh off another multi-platinum-selling record, proven country luminary Carrie Underwood delivers her most artistically viable package in ‘Play On.’ Although it is not as commercially friendly as her two previous albums, ‘Play On’ serves as a crucial maturing point in Underwood’s career.

‘Play On’ is a more tried and true country offering than Underwood’s previous albums, and everything from the instrumentation to the lyrical material reflects this. Producer Mark Bright is responsible for a large portion of the album’s diversity, but Underwood’s unique touch plays an equal role.

Kicking the disc off with the up-tempo “Cowboy Casanova,” Underwood signals that she means business. The scorned woman-themed country rock track includes staccato phrases in the verses that show off her ability to tell a stylized story through her vocals. This is not the only track where she dabbles in this subject, however, as the Kara DioGuardi co-penned “Undo It” strikes a similar chord.

The majority of ‘Play On’ is more relaxed and “back roads country,” though, especially seen in tracks like “Someday When I Stop Loving You” and “Look At Me.” These songs are Opry-certified and definitely appeal to the country music fan of yesterday.

At the same time, there are plenty of cuts that appeal to Underwood’s younger fans like “This Time” and “Unapologize.” The former is a radio-friendly track features poppy instrumentation and a universal theme of an ode to youthfulness in its lyrics (“Life is short / love is sweet / ain’t no time like this time baby”). The latter is a mid-tempo boasting writing credits by Raine Maida and wife Chantal Kreviazuk that allows Underwood to explore a deep, tender area without coming off as another Louisville slugger-wielding maniac.

Some light-hearted fare includes the self-conscious “Quitter,” which Max Martin had a hand in writing, and “Songs Like This,” which delivers a short but salty message to guys that have made things difficult for Underwood in some way.

One of the most heartfelt tracks on the album is “Change,” which presents listeners with moral dilemmas and confronts people with the notion that anyone can make a difference in this world. The rousing bridge is one of the liveliest moments of the album and Underwood’s vocals are remarkably controlled. “Mama’s Song” is another touching lyrical offering even though the overall product is slightly boring.

But the most beautiful song on ‘Play On’ (and quite possibly Underwood’s career to date) comes eighth on the track list. “Temporary Home” is effective not only because of its simple production and tender vocals, but for its emotional lyrics as well (“This is my temporary home / it’s not where I belong / windows and rooms / that I’m passing through / this is just a stop / on the way to where I‘m going / I’m not afraid because I know / this is my temporary home”). This is the song that will win Underwood her most deserved Grammy.

On “What Can I Say,” Underwood gets a little help from Sons of Sylvia, resulting in an affectionate duet with perfectly complementary vocals. The song does a great job allowing Underwood to reach into her falsetto and display her stunning range.

To close out the album, Underwood selects its title track to tie all the diverse ends together. The message etched in the track’s lyrics is applicable to any situation in life (“Play on / when you’re losing the game / play on / cause you’re gonna make mistakes / it’s always worth a sacrifice / even when you think you’re wrong / so play on”).

Sometimes when an artist has a good thing going, it doesn’t hurt to stick on a path. Carrie Underwood demonstrates this admirably, and despite some minor imperfections, ‘Play On’ is a fusion of old time country with new styles to result in an eclectic collection for all ages.

Underwood is still at it!

Carrie Underwood proves why she is the reigning female vocalist of the year with this new album. Her first single, Cowboy Casanova, is a fast-paced song and is zoomimg up the charts. Her other singles, Undo It, Temporary Home and Mama's Song prove why this album is set to be her best album to date. I highly reccomend this album to anyone who loves country music.

Carrie shows maturity for 'Play On'

It's hard to list the multiple achievements that Carrie Underwood has obtained over the past four years. It makes some people wonder if the never ending list of achievements will ever come to and end. They'll have to keep waiting. 'Play On' showcases Miss Underwood's growth as a singer and songwriter; in fact, she has had a help in penning seven of the 13 songs, and many of them are the stronger tracks on the album. Carrie also shows greater control and restraint over her vocals, which in return results in singing that is unparalleled by many. The production is lighter, subtle, and showcases Carrie's voice more, which is refreshing after the bombastic production that was present on 'Carnival Ride'. These improvements have resulted in what is Carrie's best album yet. Here is a track by track overview of 'Play On':

Cowboy Casanova - This track gets 'Play On' off to a great start; it almost sounds like something that would belong on a Shania album. Of course, that isn't a bad thing.
Quitter - Initially, it seems like something that might belong on a Taylor Swift album. Carrie, of course, pulls it off and makes the subject matter believable.
Mama's Song - A beautiful song that is the perfect example of how Carrie has learned to control her vocals. This is is a very personal song to Carrie; you can almost hear the smile in her voice as she sings the chorus.
Change - A meaningful ballad about the little things that one can do to change the world. Again, Carrie's voice is mesmerizing and captivating. This would be an ideal choice for Idol Gives Back, or another charity of the like.
Undo It - One of the low points of the album; the song almost seems incomplete. The verses are much better than the chorus, which emphasizes the hook "uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-Undo It".
Someday When I Stop Loving You - A perfect example of how Carrie is moving forward artistically. This track is one of her most country sounding to date; it is also one of her best. Miss Underwood shows impeccable restraint and delivery of a song that is on level with her talent.
Songs Like This - This is arguably the strongest uptempo song of 'Play On'. Songs Like This sounds like something one might find on a Dixie Chicks or Miranda Lambert album. This track immediately grabs your attention and commands it.
Temporary Home - Words can't describe this nearly flawless song. This is easily the best song of Miss Underwood's career to date; masterpiece is not an exaggeration. The song effectively tells three different stories, and ultimately concludes that Earth is just a "temporary home". If this song doesn't win awards, I will be shocked.
This Time - A feel good love song that is one of the stronger tracks on 'Play On'. This track is a foot tapper and flows nicely with the album.
Look at Me - This track is an Alan Jackson cover song, with background vocals by Vince Gill. Reminiscent of "I Told You So", it is beautiful and understated.
Unapologize - A mid-tempo track that doesn't stand out from the other songs, but it holds its own ground well.
What Can I Say - One of the strongest tracks on 'Play On'. Carrie showcases her falsetto with beauty and elegance, and her voice blends with the Sons of Sylvia well.
Play On - The best track to close the album. Carrie encourages listeners to "play on, when you're losing the game / play on, cause you're gonna make mistakes", which isn't exactly an original idea, but again, Carrie pulls it off.

Standouts: Temporary Home, What Can I Say, Songs Like This, Cowboy Casanova, Someday When I Stop Loving You, This Time

Biography

Born: March 10, 1983 in Checotah, OK

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The first country singer to win American Idol, Carrie Underwood grew up in the small town of Checotah, Oklahoma, and began singing with her church at the tender age of three. Throughout her childhood, she also performed at functions for the Lion's Club and Old Settlers Day, eventually moving on to festival gigs in several states. Along with developing her singing, Underwood learned to play guitar and piano. She graduated from high school as her class salutatorian and majored...
Full Bio
Play On, Carrie Underwood
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