Carrie Underwood has been riding a decade-long winning streak since exploding onto the scene by winning Season 4 of “American Idol” in 2005. Her first four albums topped the charts and the Oklahoma native, now 32, has established herself as one of modern country music’s true superstars. Not even a mixed reaction (to put it nicely) to her turn as Maria in NBC’s live production of “The Sound of Music” has been able to slow down the Underwood express train.
Fifth full-length “Storyteller” is her first album of new material since 2012’s “Blown Away” — though her 2014 greatest hits album went platinum as well — and finds Underwood on top of her game. She has followed a tried and true formula over the years and doesn’t deviate too much from the successful blueprint here. Hey, if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it, right?
Lead single “Smoke Break” is terrific and set closer “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted,” an ode to her newborn son, is Underwood at her sweetest. Additional standouts include the one-two opening punch of “Renegade Runaway” and “Dirty Laundry,” along with “Choctaw County Affair,” “Like I’ll Never Love You Again,” “Chaser” and “The Girl You Think I Am.” Great stuff from one of the most reliably consistent performers in country music. (Jeffrey Sisk)