Greatest hits albums are often derided as creative placeholders, or worse yet, contractual obligations. In Carrie Underwood's case, the album subtitled "Decade #1" is a chance to take a somewhat awe inspired look at what a successful career this American Idol alumnus has already had to date.
One of its two new songs, the single "Something in the Water," is a wonderfully gutsy move on Underwood's part. Country is one of the rare genres where a Christian can sing of his/her faith, and Underwood takes full advantage of this privilege; and does so with a moving song - one that she also took part in writing.
The other fresh cut, "Little Toy Guns," also finds Underwood in passion overdrive mode. She has the sort of voice that can get this powerful and yet not ever come off like she's straining herself. Underwood may not be traditionally country for many purists, but nobody can question the high quality of her singing voice. This album provides ample evidence of her natural vocal skills.
It's also heartening to notice that Underwood had a hand in writing a goodly portion of the songs. It's easy to criticize many American Idol contestants as being little more than pretty faces and voices, but Underwood has proven herself to be a true, creative artist. The disc also includes three writing session workshop recordings ("So Small," "Last Name" and "Mama's Song").
Underwood's overtly spiritual single "Something in the Water" shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody that's followed her career. She also includes her version of "How Great Thou Art" (with help from Vince Gill in a live recording) here, which is a concert staple, as well as her big hit, "Jesus Take the Wheel." Her faith is simply a part of who she is.
This album gives fans a chance to have all her big and small (though there are few of the latter) hits in one handy place, from the angry Carrie ("Before He Cheats," "Cowboy Casanova"), to the desperate in love Underwood, represented by the fantastic duet ballad of "Remind Me," which finds her trading lines with Brad Paisley.
These past 10 years have been quite good to Underwood.