Released November 3rd 2009, Play On is the third album from American Idol winner turned country superstar Carrie Underwood. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, selling 318,000 copies in its first week.
01. Cowboy Casanova
03. Mama's Song
05. Undo It
06. Someday When I Stop Loving You
07. Songs Like This
08. Temporary Home
09. This Time
10. Look At Me
12. What Can I Say (feat. Sons of Sylvia)
13. Play On
From Carrie's official site:
[Carrie's] love for music is evident throughout her third album, Play On, as is her arrival as a mature artist, confident, fully in command of her extraordinary vocal skills, and tackling a wider artistic range both lyrically and musically. Equally important, in co-writing seven of the CD's thirteen songs, she emerges as a songwriter of real depth, opening a wider window into her creativity and allowing her fans their most intimate look at Carrie the artist and person.
"Because of my songwriting," she says, "I feel like somebody can listen to this album and get more of a sense of who I am. They can listen to certain things and think, 'This is really sincere. This is really emotional. She was a writer on it, so this comes from something that was deep inside of her heart.' I do feel like people can get to know me a lot better from Play On."
Carrie's songwriting had already brought her two awards from BMI, the performing rights organization, for "All-American Girl" and "So Small," and Play On brings that side of her work to fruition. The public's first glimpse came with Play On's first single, "Cowboy Casanova," which Carrie co-wrote with Mike Elizondo and Brett James. The song, with its high-energy look at "a snake with blue eyes" roared into the Top 10 in just four weeks.
Much of the album is in fact concerned with the ups and downs of love, the good and bad among the world's men. Songs range from "This Time" and "Mama's Song," two takes on the best that love has to offer, to "Undo It" and "Songs Like This," which lay it on the line for the men in relationships gone wrong, and from "Look At Me," which features vocal help from Vince Gill and deals with the pure exhilaration of falling in love, to "What Can I Say," a song of regret featuring Sons of Sylvia. One of the true vocal highlights is "Someday When I Stop Loving You," an exquisitely sung exploration of sadness in the wake of a failed relationship.
Carrie's own experiences let her infuse both ends of the spectrum with the sting of truth. "I've seen a lot in the dating world," she says, "and it's not one-dimensional, where I'm in love all the time or hate men all the time. I've been everywhere in between, and through my own experience or that of friends, I've seen every kind of guy, and I think some of these songs capture the everywhereness of being a woman."
But there is much more to be found on Play On. The title cut is an exhortation to persistence in the midst of obstacles, sung with the fire that has marked so much of Carrie's work. "Temporary Home," penned by Carrie with Zac Maloy and Luke Laird, is one of the strongest representations of hope ever committed to CD, as Carrie tells the story of a boy in foster care, a young mother in crisis, and a man facing his own mortality.
Given Carrie's emergence as a force for social good in terms of charitable work and humanitarian causes, "Change" is in a very real sense the album's cornerstone.
"This is a world so big it can break your heart," she says. "It just seems like there are so many problems. What do you do? Where do you start? Well, there are opportunities every day, so many things around you where you can make a difference. Sometimes it's the smallest thing--the person in this song had just 36 cents, you know?--and I'm really anticipating being able to do some good with this song."
For all the variety in its subject matter, for all the musical avenues it explores, Play On is an album that will resonate for its energy, its celebration of life, and its reflection of Carrie as an artist hitting stride.
"There's a little more mature subject matter on certain songs for sure," Carrie says, "but I like to think I'm still young enough to keep the fun and the sass and things like that. I'm also in a good place where I do feel a lot more grown-up, more confident in my writing and in my ability to open myself up a little bit more."
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