17 November 2007

Carrie What's-Her-Last-Name Kisses Frogs, Loves Her Dog

I've been enjoying Carrie Underwood's new record, Carnival Ride. It's a solid sophomore set of songs, and anyone who cared for her debut should find this new one very satisfying, too. There's nothing as instantly catchy as "Jesus, Take the Wheel," but overall this second record has greater breadth and depth, both musically and lyrically. Among those singers who have actually won on American Idol, Carrie is so far the only one to have demonstrated a compelling reason for her victory, although I suppose there are diehard Kelly Clarkson fans still out there somewhere. These are matters of my own opinion, obviously, and others are quite welcome to their own.

Carnival Ride was aptly named, as it feels a bit like that. There's some sparkling moments of humor and fun, and then some other more melancholy songs. I don't gather that Carrie is bitter about anything, but she does seem a little cynical and skeptical these days. I have no idea how old she is now, but I sense that she may be feeling the pressures and disillusionments of the entertainment world. I hope such things don't get the better of her, as she comes across as a wholesome, down-home kind of girl. That's part of what I like and enjoy about her songs.

There's not a lot more to say, I suppose. Those who like Carrie Underwood have probably already picked up this new record for themselves; and those who don't, probably won't. To each his own. There are some poignant points along the way, such as "Just a Dream," "I Know You Won't," and "You Won't Find This." Carrie handles each of those well, I think. I like her remake of the Randy Travis song, "I Told You So," as well as some of the more uptempo songs: "Flat on the Floor," "So Small," and "Crazy Dreams" (the last of these complete with hairbrush singers, dashboard drummers and air guitar players). The sweetest song on the record is "All-American Girl," and I'm mushy enough about my children to find it touching and delightful.

The two songs on Carnival Ride that bust my gut with laughter the first time I heard them, are "Last Name" and "The More Boys I Meet." The first of these had me wondering to begin with, but the conclusion of the story it tells is a riot. Apologies to anyone whose piety may be offended. I don't recommend that anyone follow the example of the poor girl in the song; in fact, I recommend strongly against it. But it's clever and humorous, anyway. "The More Boys I Meet" is great, and the punch line of that song almost caused me to drive off the road; well, not really, but close enough. I was on my way from visiting my Grandma in Seymour to visiting my daughter DoRena in Bloomington, on a twisting, curving road through Brown County, as Carrie was singing the chorus: "I close my eyes and kiss the frog, each time finding, the more boys I meet, the more I love my dog." Okay, I found that to be very funny. Young bucks starstruck by Miss Underwood might not be so amused. But anyone can have a good time hearing her sing. Enjoy the ride.

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