Play On by Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood’s much-anticipated third album finds the superstar consolidating her style, firmly staking out her corner of the pop-country landscape. Sassy tracks like “Songs Like This” and the first single, “Cowboy Casanova,” find her in full kiss-off mode, while the socially conscious ballads “Temporary Home” and “Change” are delivered with the firm conviction their sentiments require. Play On is clearly a career-building reiteration of the considerable strengths Carrie showcased on her first two albums.

The only big surprise here is in the writing credits, which are filled with names like Max Martin, Kara DioGuardi, Mike Elizondo and Chantal Kreviazuk—songwriters typically associated with pop acts like Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne. (Never fear, longtime Carrie co-writers like Luke Laird are also well-represented.) While such a roster of collaborators would typically signal a crossover bid, Play On is straightforward contemporary country in the mold of Carrie’s first two albums. That suggests that in Carrie we have an artist who has found her direction and won’t be thrown off course.

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