Carrie Underwood, 'Something In The Water'—Single Review

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When you think mainstream country music in 2014, you probably think of Luke Bryan's raucous Spring Break, Florida Georgia Line's sheepishly gung ho anthems or you might think of the finest of female vocalists succumbing to the tides and plummeting to the white-wash of the corporate machine with their own estrogenic contributions to the "bro-country" wave. But one female, despite her own feature on "Somethin' Bad" with Miranda Lambert (however fun, laid-back and simply feel good it may be), that hasn't fallen prey to either template on her own solo work is Carrie Underwood.

With a catalog that stretches the depths of religiously-pinned constructs ("Jesus Take The Wheel," "So Small," "Temporary Home") and truly groundbreaking work ("Blown Away," "Two Black Cadillacs"), Underwood has cultivated a songbook that has defined the modern female. Of course, when you talk about her most well-known hits, you've also got to talk about the ferocious "Before He Cheats," the pop-tin-roofed "Undo It," the underrated devastation of "Just A Dream" and even the musically-layered, vocally-nuanced "Good Girl." But with her brand new single, the Underwood/Chris DeStefano/Brett James collaborative "Something In The Water," she single-handedly rescues what ounce of authenticity the format has left. Unlike her previous faith-based efforts, the track offers a bit more that only time and experience could fuse into her previously achieved notions. Crafted around a simple story of a man passing on the message of faith, redemption and light, "Water" wouldn't fair as well without the matured, blessed and downright haunting voice of Underwood. As she heads into the 10 year anniversary since winning American Idol in 2005, she proves (in less than four minutes) that you can have tempo and a story in the same song. Of course, she also demonstrates her natural born gift of being one of the most captivating vocalists of any genre in history.

Underwood's faith has always been at the forefront of her public persona, and her music has been the testament of her unconditional love for mankind and teaching others how to live better lives. "Something In The Water," a patchwork for pop, rock and traditional elements, is, at its core, a story song. While the unraveling allows plenty for the listener to solve, it's ultimate resolution is a gripping, poignant understanding of the human existence. "He said 'I've been where you've been before, down every hallway's a slamming door, no way out, no one to come and save me.' Wasting a life that the Good Lord gave you," she sings on the first verse. "There's somebody saying what I'm saying to you. Open my eyes and told me truth. He said, 'Just a little faith and it'll all get better.' So I followed that preacher man down to the river and now I'm changed. And now I'm stronger."

Assembled with an orchestral arrangement and a backing of a harmoniously sanctified choir, this track, which samples Underwood's upcoming Greatest Hits: Decade #1 (out Dec. 9), is a game changer. By bringing faith back into the mix in such an extremely passionate way, this Oklahoma native is making a bold statement: there's more to life than partying, red dirt roads and shaking it in the moonlight on the back of a tailgate. Life is about truth, and Underwood's truth is her undying faith. Boys, listen up and be moved to tears—and if that searing, nearly ghostly, break into "Amazing Grace" at the end of the track doesn't do it, move along.

Grade: 4.5/5

Grab a copy of "Something In The Water" on iTunes now!

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