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Carrie Underwood - Play On
By: Brianna Nightingale, CSO Staff Journalist
12/8/09

In a local Nashville radio interview, Underwood revealed that she feels more open now that this album has been recorded. “People will learn more about who I am when they hear this,” she said. Underwood wants people to listen to these songs with her life in mind. “I would love for people to listen to ‘Mama’s Song’ and think ‘OK, she loves her mama and she’s in a good place in her life right now.’”

Underwood’s main goal with this album, other than opening herself up a little, was to relieve stress from her fans. “I generally like to keep politics and whatnot out of the music, because it’s where you go to escape. It’s where you go to feel better about stuff,” she said in an interview with The Boot. That’s what she kept in mind as she collaborated with other writers to perfect Play On, her third studio album since winning American Idol in 2005.

Although Underwood chose songs from several other talented writers, she was able to take part in writing over half of the tracks on this album.

Underwood’s first single from Play On, the attitude-driven, catchy “Cowboy Casanova,” was written with Mike Elizondo and Brett James, Underwood’s co-writer on “Jesus Take The Wheel.” The song continues to frequent the top spots on the Billboard Country Music Chart after it first hit the chart 13 weeks ago. It is a typical song that fits Underwood’s hard-hitting manner, with just enough attitude to showcase her inimitable style.

Melodically, “Quitter” is one of my favorites because it is different. Swedish producer, Max Martin, one of three writers on the song, put his own spin on it, incorporating powerful mandolin and steel guitar licks on the solo. He and one of the other writers, Shellback, actually produced the track.

It seems that Underwood has found new niches in her strong voice to showcase on this album, especially on “Unapologize,” another hard-hitting one, that describes something many of us have experienced. We hide our feelings, and then pour them out when we cannot handle it anymore.

“I meant every word
Won’t take back the way I feel about you
Can’t unsay what you heard
Cause you heard me right
And I won’t try to fighting back and hide my feelings for you
I unapologize”

The same songwriting team that came together to create “Mama’s Song” also wrote “Undo It,” which has a lot of “na, na, na’s,” that Underwood likes in her songs.

Sons of Sylvia shared their voices on “What Can I Say,” where Underwood finds herself looking for a second chance, and Vince Gill did backup vocals on “Look at Me.”

“Temporary Home” and “Change” both tug at heart strings. “Change,” written by Josh Kear, Katrina Elam and Chris Tompkins, is one of the most inspirational songs on the album. Some say it may be a good song for American Idol.

The encouragement streaming out of the title track, “Play On,” seems to have already drawn in several of Underwood’s fans, causing this to be one of their favorite songs on the album. “Whenever stuff goes wrong, you’ve just got to get up in the morning and you’ve got to play on, finish your song, finish what you started, even when things don’t look good,” Underwood said.

The title, Play On, was a great choice, because just like the title track, the complete album is upbeat and positive, doing exactly what Underwood intended for it to do: give her fans something to use when they need to “Play on when you're losing the game/ Play on 'cause you're gonna make mistakes/ It's always worth the sacrifice/ Even when you think you're wrong/ So play on, so play on.”


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