... but gospel is just not a good genre for solo artists
Some versions are really thin
My Savior is already the second Carrie Underwood album I review with Flyctory.com. However, also this one is not a classic Carrie one again: after my first review was the patchy Christmas album My Gift, Underwood is featuring a selection of gospel classics in this one. The album will be released on 26th March 2021.
Carrie Underwood – About The Artist
The review of My Gift, which has been one of the first Christmas album releases in 2021, contains quite some bio about Carrie Underwood – so I will cut this section a bit shorter. Refer to that review for more information about the country music legend from Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Carrie Underwood – My Savior – Track by Track
The thirteen song album lasts 49 minutes.
1. Jesus Loves Me (Instrumental)
The album starts with a one minute harmonica instrumental intro.
2. Nothing But the Blood of Jesus
I won’t go too much into the detail of the background of every gospel in the album – I am not religious and thus would spoil some of the stories anyway. Nothing But the Blood of Jesus is however already a quite characteristic song for the whole album: Carrie Underwood indeed has a lovely voice and she ads some country music sprinkles on the frosting of this gospel tart. But to me, it gospel is an amazing genre, because it is driven by a group of people with powerful voices. Carrie does a nice job here interpreting this 1876 original – but as a solo artist, she has no chance to reach the real power of a gospel choir.
3. Blessed Assurance
Blessed Assurance is interpreted with acoustic guitar only. The powerful high notes have some surprising impreciseness. If there weren’t the lyrics, this track rather sounds like a country Christmas song.
4. Just as I Am
Reading some information about the original gospels while reviewing the gospel I ran into the notes of Just as I am, which has been written by Charlotte Elliott in 1835. The original interpretation is a four-part song. Carrie Underwood can naturally just do one of them. It leaves a lovely-sounding country gospel ballad – and the question, why Underwood is doing this.
5. Victory in Jesus
I feel that Victory in Jesus is one of the best songs of the album. There are two reasons for that: the melody of the original gospel is already a quite nice fit to the traditional country music sound. Secondly, Carrie Underwood is rather going for some more vocal power in here (instead of a relatively thin and fragile sound in the songs before). Finally, this song spreads both, a touch of country and a touch of gospel.
6. Great Is They Faithfulness (feat. CeCe Winans)
Great Is They Faithfullness is one of the most impressive songs of the album – it just adds so much value to have a professional gospel singer onboard as well. It is a bit sad that either one or the other artist is singing – but of course, the twelve time Grammy Award winner Winans would likely overpower Underwood in her musical core discipline.
7. O How I Love Jesus
After that powerful collaboration, O How I Love Jesus feels a bit of thin – even though it is one of the nicer interpretations on the album from my point of view. On the hand, I just don’t feel the Carrie Underwood energy in this song.
8. How Great Thou Art
How Great Thou Art is one of two gospel interpretations, which last longer than five minutes. It is comparably powerful and even comes with a decent electric guitar solo. Thereby, the rather feels like a 1980’s pop Christmas album than a Carrie Underwood masterpiece. At least, Carrie is showing her powerful voice towards the end of the song.
9. Because He Lives
Because He Lives has originally been written by Bill Gather and his wife Gloria. It is one of the few songs, which really feel like a Carrie Underwood one.
10. The Old Rugged Cross
The Old Rugged Cross is often referred to as a country gospel, so I expected an easy job for Carrie Underwood. There have been so many country legends which recorded this one – now, Carrie is one of them. It is finally one of the best songs of the album – also because Underwood dares to be energetic and powerful.
11. I Surrender All
I Surrender All is another 19th century original on My Savior. These kind of gospel reinterpretations are the ones I struggle with most. The metronome-alike rhythm does rather strengthen my confusion.
12. Softly and Tenderly
While I was listening to this song, my wife was already up to order some Christmas presents at Amazon. In these pandemic times, you just lose the sense in which season you are currently in. Softly and Tenderly, Carrie style, feels like a musical request to put up the Christmas tree. Some nine months too early. That’s just not the style of song I like to listen to when the birds outside are preparing their nests.
13. Amazing Grace
This classic was likely an unavoidable choice. There are so many great and energetic interpretations of that classic. Towards the end of the song, Carrie is supported by some backing vocals (or at least a strong echo). They should have done it before. In this song, because the song was really to thin – and likely in several parts of the whole album for the same reason.
Carrie Underwood – My Savior – Spotify
Here are Carrie Underwood’s gospel interpretations on Spotify:
Carrie Underwood – My Savior – My View
Oh Carrie. Relatively to your talent (and your success), I felt that My Gift was already a fail. I feel I had lower expectations about your trip into the genre of gospel. Luckily, that prevents me from being really disappointed. My Savior does have some nice tunes, but overall, this genre is just not made for solo voices – even if you are an exceptional artist. On top of that, the selection of songs is really straightforward and there are likely quite some gospel albums out there which cover a majority of Underwood’s song collection. Overall, I feel that Carrie Underwood did a much better job than in her Christmas adventure – but she just went for a really tough challenge. Thus, religion with Carrie feels as boring as celebrating Christmas. Please go back to country, you are so exciting on your home ground!