Carnival Ride

Carnival Ride

4.6 96
by Carrie Underwood

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The pivotal American Idol moment for Carrie Underwood was when she teased her hair to the heavens and sang Heart's "Alone," belting out the power ballad with sincerity and a natural flair for drama. It was the surest sign that Carrie wasn't merely the country star the show gladly pigeonholed her as, that she was a pop star by any measure.


The pivotal American Idol moment for Carrie Underwood was when she teased her hair to the heavens and sang Heart's "Alone," belting out the power ballad with sincerity and a natural flair for drama. It was the surest sign that Carrie wasn't merely the country star the show gladly pigeonholed her as, that she was a pop star by any measure. Of course, the great irony was that Carrie had little interest in being a pop star; she wanted to be a country singer, but the sheer magnitude of American Idol meant that she was already a pop star who needed to cross over to country, a reverse of the usual crossover move. Underwood pulled off that tricky maneuver with a deceptive ease on her 2005 debut, Some Hearts, which turned into a smash success, turning sextuple platinum at a time when many albums struggle to go gold, even surpassing the sales of the original Idol, Kelly Clarkson. Such success raised the bar for her 2007 follow-up, Carnival Ride. Traditionally, second albums are a place where artists consolidate their strengths or expand their reach, either with an eye toward artistic growth or commercial success, and Carrie chooses the former option, creating a record that is more purely country than her debut. She dials down the pageantry drama that peppered her debut -- there are no Diane Warren songs, for instance -- and plays up her humble, all-American persona, singing songs about small towns and big dreams, even attempting to kick up some dirt and grit on the one-night-stand anthem "Last Name," which is Miranda Lambert filtered through Shania Twain. And one of the striking things about Carnival Ride is how completely Carrie Underwood has stepped into the void that Shania and Faith Hill left behind: the small-town girl made good but who hasn't left her roots behind. In other words, she hasn't made the big pop diva move that Shania did with Up! or Faith with Cry; she's planted herself firmly within country. Now, Carrie's country is hardly traditionalist -- despite the lack of Diane Warren tunes, there are plenty of power ballads here, along with light drum loops that aren't commonly heard in Nashville -- but her approach is completely contemporary country, in how it blurs the borders between country and arena rock, something that's perfect for a girl who made her first big splash singing Heart. Sound and feel do mean a lot, but country records really survive on the strength of their songs, and the remarkable thing about Carnival Ride is that it's stronger song for song than Some Hearts, some of this due to Carrie herself, who bears four songwriting credits here, often in conjunction with some permutation of Steve McEwan and Hillary Lindsey, who pen a bunch of other tunes here. The songs may veer just a bit too close to the big power ballads, but they all work as strong pieces of commercial country, built on surging melodies (all the better for Carrie to belt) and lyrics that play into Underwood's small-town girl persona but are also open-ended enough to be relatable. All this very well may be more calculating than it appears, but the appealing thing about Carnival Ride is that it plays so smoothly and assuredly that you just go along for the ride, especially because Carrie sells these songs completely, making the clichés and cornball phrases believable. It's a gift that Shania had, but she always seemed larger than life. In contrast, Carrie Underwood only sounds larger than life, and she still comes across like the girl next door despite her massive success, and this lingering sense of innocence -- however constructed for stage it may be -- gives an album as big and shiny as Carnival Ride the appearance of a genuine heart, something that no other big country-pop album has had since the glory days of Come on Over.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Kelefa Sanneh
It’s a straight-up Carrie Underwood album, and a very good one, with a handful of romps and laments that exist mainly to set the stage for the big-voiced, ’80s-influenced, Southern-accented power ballads she sings so well.
Rolling Stone - Rob Sheffield
Carnival Ride is more country and therefore more confident. She goes for the girl-next-door cred long since given up by Faith Hill in uptempo gems like "The More Boys I Meet" ("The more I love my dog").
Entertainment Weekly - Leah Greenblatt
Carnival Ride covers its bases impeccably, from the roof-raising opener ''Flat on the Floor'' to the gorgeous, torchy ballad ''I Know You Won't'' and the already-massive anthem ''So Small.'' [B+]
Washington Post - Bill Friskies-Warren
As on her previous album, Underwood's voluptuous soprano is the main event.... There's no denying the power and beauty of Underwood's instrument, a strapping and supple voice akin to those of Yearwood and Martina McBride.
Newsday - Glenn Gamboa
[Grade: B] "Carnival Ride" goes down extraordinarily easy - lots of lush, inspirational ballads that make the most of her gorgeous voice and a handful of rock-tinged up-tempo numbers about getting out of town or following your dreams.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Carrie Underwood   Primary Artist,Background Vocals
Jack Jezzro   Bass
Eric Darken   Percussion
John Catchings   Viola
Matt Chamberlain   Drums
Paul Franklin   Dobro,Steel Guitar
Vince Gill   Background Vocals
Carl Gorodetzky   Violin
Jim Grosjean   Viola
Charles Judge   Organ,Synthesizer,Strings,Hammond Organ,Lap Steel Guitar
Anthony LaMarchina   Viola
Chris McHugh   Drums
Nashville String Machine   Strings
Craig Nelson   Bass
Pamela Sixfin   Violin
Jimmie Lee Sloas   Bass
Alan Umstead   Violin
Catherine Umstead   Violin
Gary VanOsdale   Viola
Kris Wilkinson   Viola
Jonathan Yudkin   Bass,Fiddle,Mandolin,Violin,Cello,Viola,Track Performer
Aubrey Haynie   Fiddle,Mandolin
Jimmy Nichols   Synthesizer,Piano
Lisa Cochran   Background Vocals
Keith Nicholas   Viola
Gordie Sampson   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Piano
Monisa Angell   Viola
Karen Winkelmann   Violin
Julie Tanner   Viola
Bruce Christensen   Viola
Cate Myer   Violin
Gerald Greer   Violin
Betty Small   Violin
Wes Hightower   Background Vocals
Tom Bukovac   Electric Guitar
Connie Ellison   Violin
Carole Rabinowitz-Neuen   Viola
Carrie Bailey   Violin
Denise Baker   Violin
Beverly Drukker   Violin
Dave Angell   Violin
Ilya Toshinsky   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo
Erin Hall   Violin
Hillary Lindsey   Background Vocals
Sari Reist   Viola
Zeneba Bowers   Violin
Mike Johnson   Steel Guitar

Technical Credits

Randy Travis   Composer
Cathy Dennis   Composer
Derek Bason   Engineer
Barry Dean   Composer
Charles Judge   Programming,Loop
Gordon Kennedy   Composer
Chris McDonald   Arranger,Composer
Jonathan Yudkin   Arranger,Composer
Mark Bright   Producer
Neil Thrasher   Composer
Brett James   Composer
Tom Shapiro   Composer
S. Wade Hunt   Art Direction
Wendell Mobley   Composer
Gordie Sampson   Composer
Chris Lindsey   Composer
Kelley Lovelace   Composer
Aimee Mayo   Composer
Steve McEwan   Composer
J.R. Rodriguez   Engineer
Hillary Lindsey   Composer
Troy Verges   Composer
Carrie Underwood   Composer
Ashley Monroe   Composer
Judy Forde Blair   Liner Notes,Creative Producer
Ashley Gorley   Composer
Luke Laird   Composer
Hillary Lindsay   Composer

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Carnival Ride 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think the hit song "So Small" is brilliantly written, and could be a great song if Carrie did not try to "belt it out" in such a high key. At first it was ok, however after awahile it's really tiring to hear her straining her voice like that.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
So far the first single So Small off of Carrie Underwood's sophmore album has been great. Compared to her second cd just with this song you can tell how much she has grown. Some Hearts was a great cd but I have a feeling this one is going to be even better. I can't wait to hear the rest of it. But defenitly take a listen to the single So Small it will blow you away!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carrie hits the ground running! She is absolutely adorable and an amazing singer. You have to hear each of these songs because if you don't you will feel very left out of everything!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Based on 40 sec clips of each song that I have heard, this CD is going to be fantastic. Her voice is beyond comparison. A voice like this comes along about once a decade. The early previews from those who have heard the entire CD have also been very good. Sounds like a winner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the song 'So Small' is not small at all its possibly the greatest song i have ever heard .Carrie has defintly out done her self and i hope she continues to put out amazing songs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's possibly the best song every written. It is the star of what is possibly the best album that will ever be put out by an American Idol. Can she out do herself next time? I don't know, but I do know she out did her last album and 'Some Hearts' was great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I listened to the clips from "Carnival Ride" and it sounds so amazing!!All of the clips from the album are so great!!I can't wait for the album to come out!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Former Season 4 American Idol's Carrie Underwood who released her first debut album at 2005/2006 was a major success, the songs presented on the album were all fresh materials and strong solid album. This year she delivers her next album which is much more solid & wonderful album than the previous one. 1.Flat on the Floor is a sweet catchy opening for the album. 2.All American-girl which the 2nd track takes you on the run of being a proud American girl under relation. 3.So Small, the first single from the album. Definitely one of the strongest materials and even for the single of the year. Good choice! 4.Just A Dream, the song that might touch your heart sad song. 5.Get Out of This Town, my favorite, is perfect for traveling. The rushy melody is just perfect. This song is fantastic. 6.Crazy Dreams is just another country song. I don't really fit into this song. It's ok. 7.I know you won't, another of my favorites. I like this song very much, this reminds me of starts with goodbye from her album. 8.Last Name is most solid country song in this album. 9.You won't find this... all i can for this is wow! this is a really nice country-pop song 10. I Told you so. Nice! 11. The more boys I meet, nice ride with this song.. reminds me of the 90s. 12. Twisted allures one who listens to it. The instrument and Carrie's voice is very solid in this one. 13. Wheel of the world. For me this is the song that takes Carrie to the next level. The best material in the album. Without denial, it offers strong vocal, melody and instrument.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVE this incredible album! Carrie has taken it to a whole new level on this one, both vocally and artistically. It is fun, sassy, deep, thoughtful, and real, with a better glimpse into who carrie is, as a person. I loved her first album- but this one is SO amazing. I cannot wait for her next album already! LOL Her vocals soar to new heights...and this album leaves you happy and contented.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have already listened to full versions of the songs and love every song on this CD. This is a great CD. Give it a try and you won't regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this album. I have listened to all the tracks and I cannot fine one that I do not like. The problem is I can't pick a favorite. So many of the songs are my favorite. There is not a dud in the bunch. This album is better than Some Hearts and will out sell it. The songs are better and Carrie's amazing voice is even more amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album shows another side of Carrie. Every song on the album is amazing. This album is probably the best country album ive heard in a long time{in my short 15 years of living haha} and it is a must have album. So go out and buy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carrie Underwood is back!!!! I have heard every song on the album and she is better than ever. Carnival Ride is just as good maybe better than Carrie's 1st album Some Hearts. Carrie really deserved to win American Idol and now she is ruling the country charts. Keep it up Girl we love ya!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hard to believe it's possible but I think it's even better than Some Hearts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is loaded with great songs. I normally listen to an album and usually find myself skipping over the fillers. But, this album has no fillers, the songs are very good and really well written and sung. It's definitely better than her first cd and will probably sell millions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful album! I cannot stop listening to it! Carrie really soars on this album, and takes it to a whole new level from her first album. It is fun, upbeat, and warm, and her vocals have never sounded better. This is one ride you definetly want to get on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carrie Underwood shot to stardom quickly, in large part due to her American Idol following. Some Hearts was a good CD, but the songs were either really good or not good...not much middle of the road. You could tell the difference in her countrier sounding tracks and her pop tracks. It was obvious she sang the country tracks with her heart and the pop tracks with what the record company wanted. Well, Carrie veers more towards where her heart is on Carnival Ride. And whatr a relief! An amazing sophomore effort from an amazing artist. She cowrote 4 songs, which shows her attempting to grow as an artist. The other songs are great selections. A good mix of upbeat, fun songs and power ballads we have come to expect from Carrie. My favorite tracks are Just A Dream-a heartwrenching song about a military widow-and I Know You Won't, a ballad that many can relate to. There is no Before He Cheats type smash on here, but almost all the songs are great and Carrie sings her heart out. A worthy effort, and my prediction is that Carnival Ride will set her into the stratosphere, much like Shania's Come On Over did for her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carnival Ride is fantastic. A wonderful CD with outstanding songs. I love it. Thought nothing could top her Some Hearts album but this is as good or better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked Some Hearts, you will love Carnival Ride.