Carrie Underwood's calling card remains intact - her ultra strong set of pipes. "Blown Away" is almost a tale of two CDs. The first half or so tends to be far more pop oriented and at times rocks, while the other half veers far more towards country and even gets traditional on a song or two.
The lead-off hit first single, Good Girl, rocks far more than anything else. It sounds good, catchy, but with Underwood singing hard, the song is geared for arena rock, not anything remotely resembling a honky tonk in a song urging the woman to stay away from the bad guy. Underwood strays very far away from country on the reggae song, One Way Ticket. Underwood's voice comes through loud and clear, but the song sounds very out of place here and ultra-commercial.
On the mid-tempo side, Underwood does a different twist on a cheating song this time out - Two Black Cadilllacs - where the jilted work together. Underwood sounds very convincing on Forever Changed, a song written in response to a loved one's Alzheimer disease, with a soft emotion in an excellent vocal turn.
The country sounds commence with the softer, acoustic-based Do You Think About Me, where Underwood proves she doesn't need to go loud, fast or go with power vocals to put a song a across. Underwood ventures further into country thanks to banjo on Nobody Ever Told You, but starts taking more shape with Thank God for Hometowns, where Underwood definitely opts for a polish on her country on a CD produced by Mark Bright. Good in Goodbye is again well sung by Underwood, but the song has a generic sheen. Banjo leads off Leave Love Alone, making for one of the more traditional sounding songs among the 14.
The highlight is the very meaty Cupid's Got a Shotgun, by far the best song. Underwood demonstrates a comfort level with such material. Her voice is strong and powerful, although more subdued at times. But there are a slew of tasty guitar licks throughout on the song written by Underwood (she hand a hand in writing 8 of 14 here), Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear (he also helped write Before He Cheats and three other songs here including the title track). Underwood smartly tended to stick with songwriters, like Hillary Lindsey (she helped write seven songs), who helped get her to where she is because the material is strong.
Sounding comfortable in varying styles, Underwood can't be faulted for delving into what brought her to the table.