Music reviews

Carnival Ride – Carrie Underwood
American Idol champ in 2005, two-time Grammy winner and reigning CMA and ACM Female Vocalist Carrie Underwood hopes her new Carnival Ride does as well as her 6-million-selling debut, Some Hearts. The new album’s first single, “So Small,” has already ascended to the top of the airplay charts, so the Checotah, Okla., songstress ought to be able to accomplish her goal.

In choosing the album title, Underwood, 24, found Carnival Ride (taken from a lyric line in the new disc) to be a great metaphor. She explains, “You step onto this ride called life, and it’s a crazy thing you don’t know anything about, but you get on it anyway. You do what you can to lean different directions to try and get it to go where you want it to go, but you can’t stop it – it just keeps moving. That’s why Carnival Ride works as my album title, because it describes the wonderful craziness that I’ve been through over the past couple years.” You’ll enjoy this ride of great music with songs such as “Get Out of This Town” and “All-American Girl.” A-

22 More Hits – George Strait
“I’ve had people ask me why this song or that song wasn’t on the Number Ones album,” says gentleman George Strait. “If it’s their favorite song, I guess they don’t care if it was No. 1 on a chart. This album gave me the chance to include some of the fans’ other favorites, and mine.”

During his stellar 26-year career, Strait, 55, has belted out a Texas-size heaping of top tunes. He’s put out several hits collections, but there always seemed to be leftovers. These 22 tracks are all well-known Strait hit singles that, despite not quite reaching No. 1 in country radio, made a timeless impression on country music fans across the nation, including “Unwound” (George’s first single and first top 10 hit), “If You’re Thinking You Want a Stranger,” “Amarillo by Morning,” “The Fireman,” “Cowboys Like Us,” “You’ll Be There,” “Marina Del Ray” and many more. The album also includes the brand-new single “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls.” A

Everything Is Fine – Josh Turner
South Carolina’s known for great beaches and peaches. Turning out hit country singers ain’t exactly the Palmetto State’s specialty. But Hannah, S.C., native Josh Turner is changing the way the nation thinks about his state’s countryness. “Growing up, traditional country music was always where my heart was at,” he says, “because those songs were speaking about the life that I was living in rural South Carolina [Hannah’s located in the low-country Pee Dee region of the state]. It was all about love and work and life and just the everyday stuff that people go through.”

The multi-platinum Turner, who just turned 30, jump-started this album’s release with his surprise induction into the Grand Ole Opry. Everything Is Fine features the lead single “Firecracker,” as well as duets with Grammy-nominated R & B singer Anthony Hamilton on “Nowhere Fast” and country superstar Trisha Yearwood on “Another Try.” Another track worth spinning is the poignant “South Carolina Low Country.” A-

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