It’s been a week of big reveals for country superstar and Season 4 American Idol champ Carrie Underwood as she starts the rollout for her 5th studio album, Storyteller, due out 10/23. This morning, Entertainment Weekly revealed the album art, which you can see above. The gorgeous cover fits with the “twangy” though “fresh” and “rock”-influenced sound that Carrie has described Storyteller as having.
Carrie elaborated on the sound of Storyteller in a Facebook Q&A last week that Storyteller, her 1st full studio album in nearly 3 1/2 years, leans more “twangy” and “traditional” than her previous work:
I feel like a lot of the songs that I wrote and gravitated to ended up being more traditional and “twangy” than anything I have ever done before. I just went with it! I love the story telling aspect of Country music…it’s one of the reasons I always wanted to be a part of it.
She mentioned that she likes for each album to have its own feel and look, while also telling KFDI Wichita that she strives to evolve and not make the same music over and over again. Carrie further told both The Tennessean that she prefers to stand out on country radio, where there are so many soundalike songs (and, increasingly, full-on pop songs that don’t even pretend to be country). According to Carrie, the album’s title comes not from a specific song but from the idea that country music is about telling stories, and that’s what she seeks to do with the album.
Storyteller is produced by Carrie’s long-time producer Mark Bright and a couple of new names to Carrie music: Jay Joyce (best known for his work producing Eric Church, the last couple of albums from Little Big Town and Halestorm) and Zac Crowell (who co-produced Sam Hunt’s Montevallo). Southern rock/country-leaning lead single “Smoke Break” is produced by Joyce. “Smoke Break” sits at #1 on the Itunes country songs chart at the moment, and got as high as #2 all-genre last Friday, when it was also #1 on Apple Music’s streaming service. The single also broke a record yesterday for the most 1st week adds at country radio, snagging 145 out of the 154 available from the published Mediabase country panel. The song, which is about how the stress of life puts people in the mindset of needing an indulgence or vice to escape, has apparently confused some people (including USA Today’s headline writer) into thinking it endorses smoking. But as Carrie notes in this week’s Makin’ Tracks feature in Billboard Country Update (page 13):
I kill people in my songs. This is nothing. This is fine.
Carrie confirmed in her Facebook Q&A that she cowrote 6 out of the 13 tracks on Storyteller. Likely cuts for the album include (all songwriters, as always, are listed in alphabetical order):
“Church Bells” (Zac Crowell / Brett James / Hillary Lindsey) *added 8/19/2015
“Clock Don’t Stop” (Blair Daly / Chris DeStefano / Hillary Lindsey)
“Dirty Laundry” (Zac Crowell / Ashley Gorley / Hillary Lindsey)
“Like I’ll Never Love You Again” (Hillary Lindsey/ Lori McKenna / Liz Rose) *added 8/19/2015 via someone else
“Renegade Runaway” (Chris DeStefano / Hillary Lindsey / Carrie Underwood) *added 8/24/2015, based on the apparent sneak clip in the “Smoke Break” video.
“Smoke Break” – (Chris DeStefano / Hillary Lindsey / Carrie Underwood) *added 7/30/2015
“The Girl You Think I Am” (David Hodges / Hillary Lindsey / Carrie Underwood)
“What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” – (Brett James / Hillary Lindsey / Carrie Underwood) via @typo21
Check out a list of known cowrites and holds for the album here.
What do you think of “Smoke Break,” the direction of Carrie’s upcoming album and the Storyteller album cover?