From emotional ballads to big hair country, her fourth album gets 2.5 stars

By PEOPLE Music Critic Chuck Arnold
Updated May 01, 2012 04:25 PM

Carrie Underwood‘s fourth album, Blown Away, comes on like a tornado with its first three songs.

There’s the guitar-charged single “Good Girl,” which, with all of its rock bluster, is maybe the least country thing she’s ever done. Then there’s the windswept title track, an over-the-top tale about a twister wiping out the house where an alcoholic father abused his daughter.

Underwood keeps in melodramatic mode with “Two Black Cadillacs,” a macabre revenge song. You may be exhausted after getting through all of that, but brace yourself for more overproduced, under-nuanced action – this is big-hair country. Fortunately, though, relief comes in the wistful, piano-laced “Forever Changed.”

Three other ballads – the nostalgic “Thank God for Hometowns,” the bittersweet “Good in Goodbye” and the sobering “Wine After Whiskey” – are even better. Best of the uptempo numbers is “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun,” featuring no less a guitar slinger than Brad Paisley – and adding some double-barreled fun to all the high drama.

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