Last week saw the release of Carrie Underwood's hotly-anticipated fourth album. Blown Away is another flawless affair that showcases the 2005 American Idol winner's powerful pipes and evolution as an artist. The sound is still very much contemporary country but the 29-year-old shows her dark side on the positively Hitchcockian "Two Black Cadillacs" and lands an emotional knock-out punch on "Good In Goodbye" (ie. the country "Someone Like You"). There's even a reggae-tinged country-pop explosion called "One Way Ticket" that has crossover hit written all over it. Carrie is heading our way to promote the album with her first Australian tour in late June. I saw her perform an industry showcase in Sydney last year and she was brilliant. It's not too late to buy a ticket. I'm seeing her in two different cities! The Oklahoma-born beauty did some local press to promote the album and I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions. An edited version of this interview appeared on Idolator a couple of days ago but this is the full conversation.
“Good Girl” is adorable crossover country-pop song. Was it a conscious decision to spearhead the album with a more commercial track?
I really don't get into that whole "which song gets released when" game. I just try to make great music and, hopefully, can give everyone 14 tracks that could all be singles to choose from!
With the exception of “Good Girl”, “Blown Away” explores some dark themes on the title track and epic revenge-fantasy "Two Black Cadillacs". What inspired the change in direction?
We just seemed to go in that direction. It wasn't on purpose. I heard "Blown Away" and loved the song. Plain and simple! Then we ended up writing a couple more that were a little edgier. Like I said, I didn't make a conscious decision to sing songs that were darker. That's just the way the album wanted it.
You co-wrote most of the album. Was it exciting to bring your own point of view and life experience to the lyrics?
It's always fun to write. I love creating a song out of thin air. That said, I submit my co-writes like everyone else and the best songs are the ones that make the album. I love to write, but it's not imperative that I write every song on the album. I just want the best album possible.
You’re leading the CMT award nominations – who do you think is your main competition?
You never know who's going to win awards. But, we're such a tight community of performers, that we all support each other and love to get together and celebrate country music. That said, I do hope I take home something!
Your duet with Brad Paisley “Remind Me” is up for a couple of awards. How did the collaboration come about and what was it like working with him?
Brad and I know each other pretty well. We toured together a few years ago and have been hosting the CMA Awards for the past four years. A duet was inevitable at some point in time...we were just waiting on the right song. He came up with "Remind Me" right before he wrapped up his album and asked me if I would come sing on it. A few days later, I was in his studio laying down my part. He is such a great guy and I am happy that I can call him and his family my friends.
You look amazing on your new Billboard cover. Tell us about your new super-glamorous image!
Thank you! I love fashion and love to try new things. It was all about "stepping it up" this time around! I wanted this album to sound, feel and look different from my previous three albums. I got to create more drama in my looks and play around with some styles that I haven't tried before.
Despite your initial reluctance to use Twitter, you already have a huge presence due fan accounts. How do you feel about that level of fan loyalty and do you read tweets that people send you?
The whole Twitter experience has really opened my eyes to fans that I have in other countries. So far, I am having a lot fun with it. It really can be a great way to communicate instantly with fans.
What was it like touring with Keith Urban. Is he as nice as he seems from interviews?
You guys should really be proud to call Keith Urban your own! He is a very nice, talented guy who truly loves music. Touring with him was so much fun and was an experience that I learned so much from and will never forget.
You’re about to embark on a huge tour. What can fans expect from the show?
We have a lot of fun on stage and we want the people in the audience to do the same. I think people can expect to show up and have a great time! I love singing and I think that it really shows in our live concerts.
I saw you perform at a record label showcase in Sydney last year. You were brilliant and won a lot of fans that night. Were you surprised by how well you were received?
I was so happy that we had such a great time in Sydney and in Australia in general. Now I'm happy that I get to actually perform for the public there. I can't wait to get that opportunity! We will be performing at the Sydney Opera House (where I got to take a tour the last time I was in Sydney) on July 2.
“Jesus Take The Wheel” is one of my favourite songs of all-time and has really struck a chord with fans around the world. Why do you think it has connected with so many different people?
I think we've all had those moments in our lives that we realize we need to change some things about ourselves or change the way we've been living our lives. It's a very real sentiment that everyone can relate to. It is certainly one of my favorite songs to sing!
Blown Away is in stores now. Download it from iTunes now.