Music review: Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood looks like Dolly Parton, and has the voice to match
Carrie Underwood looks like Dolly Parton, and has the voice to match
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The undisputed queen of modern country music, Carrie Underwood is a unit-shifting, record-breaking, award-guzzling phenomenon. She also has what most winners of American Idol – she triumphed in 2005 – don’t have: credibility.

Carrie Underwood, SSE Hydro ***

Country music prides itself on authenticity, of course. Hell, if you ain’t authentic you just ain’t country. Underwood, however, is the real deal. She doesn’t just look the Parton-esque part, she has one helluva voice to match.

Unlike so many of her contemporaries, Underwood has no need for grandstanding vocal gymnastics. Her pure, strong, powerful voice stands proudly on its own. There is no onstage miming for this note-perfect monarch.

She’s a 21st century crossover star, which means she occasionally performs the kind of slick pop and sleek rock which traditionalists would likely struggle to define as country music at all, were it not for Underwood’s gutsy twang and titles such as Cowboy Casanova. She’s also overly fond of vast heavenly escalator power ballads, many of which tend to meld into the same generic, readymade casserole.

This Oklahoma-born superstar is undoubtedly at her best on the more understated and affecting likes of Temporary Home and See You Again, pleasingly maudlin songs in the classic tradition.

“I feel we’re lucky in country music to be able to sing about important things,” she said. Those things being, of course, the standard Nashville lexicon of God, country, family, love, loss and heartbreak. When Underwood locks horns with those hardy perennials, she soars far beyond her peers.

PAUL WHITELAW