Hunter Kelly

Note: This article referenced in this piece from The Washington Post.

Carrie Underwood revealed a new, vulnerable side of herself with the lead single and title track of her upcoming album, Cry Pretty, and that story continues in the songs that round out the new project.

The country superstar caught up with a few journalists in Nashville Wednesday to discuss the new album and the life events that surrounded it. Of course, you’ll recall that Carrie was injured in a fall at her home late last year, and the experience of recovering from those injuries is one of the reasons Carrie slowed down and began to look inward. That’s why you’ll hear a lot more of Carrie writing and singing about her life in the first person on Cry Pretty

Here are just a few quotes from the interview session: 

On channeling her tough times into new music: 

“There’s a lot of really personal songs on this album. 2017 — it was a year full of ups and downs for a lot of reasons, and a lot of reasons I’m not quite ready to talk about, but I feel like it made its way. Life, when you’re writing, kind of makes its way into what you’re doing. I feel like this was the first, or the most, that I could really inject myself into what I was writing. 

I feel like I’ve always been good about writing stories about other people and not so great writing about myself. I felt like through all the ups and downs of last year, and the beginning of this year, it was — I had to. That’s just what was on my mind and on my heart. I guess I was more self-involved? [Laughs] I don’t know! Dealing with my own crap along the way, and it just made its way in there.” 

How she faced the challenges of the past year: 

“I feel like life needs ups and downs, as much as we’d all like to avoid the downs. I feel like we wouldn’t know what the ups felt like if we didn’t have ‘em. I just feel like I was made to deal with a lot of things that — I’m not just good at dealing with stuff. I’m good at working. I’m good at kind of shoving things to the side. ‘I’ve got things to do, so let’s do these tasks at hand.’

I felt like just this past little while has been really good at making me deal with my own emotions. It’s been good for me, but it’s also been scary. If you inject yourself into your art, and then you put your art out into the world and people don’t like it or judge it or whatever, it’s like they’re kind of judging you or they don’t like you. I really hope, for better or worse, people just get it. I think we can turn situations into positive things. Whatever might be going on in your life, I feel like you can use it. For me, it was making music. It was kind of good therapy. You can turn some bad stuff into some good music.”

On standout track, “Love Wins,” a new song that calls for unity and hope in these divisive times: 

“Honestly, when we were writing it, it was a little scary, because I was like, whatever we say, I just want to make sure people see this for what it is  and what we’re trying to say. Because it’s so easy, I feel like, these days to, like, skim the surface of something, draw some crazy conclusion that’s not correct, and then make a thing out of it.

Above all, we want people to feel hopeful. We weren’t trying to speak negatively about our world, because we live in an amazing world, too. But I feel like we just get really caught up in surface things, and I feel like, in this world, we’re quick to get angry with each other. 

I personally think that we’re all different for a reason. I feel like if you just sit down and talk to somebody who’s not like you and keep it chill, keep it calm, I feel like we can all learn from each other. I feel like that’s what the good Lord would want us to do.

I know it sounds super-easy, and that’s certainly not what we were trying to say, either. ‘Let’s just all hold hands and be friends.’ I know it’s a little more complicated than that, but I do think that we as humans are inherently good, and we need to remember that. Because we’re different, that doesn’t make somebody else bad. It just makes us different. We just wanted that song to be hopeful, and to maybe make somebody to stop and think about that.”

On instilling those values in her own children: 

“I want Isaiah to be around people that don’t think like he does. I want him to form his own opinions about things. I want him to talk to people and come to people with love. You may never agree with somebody else, but that’s OK. You know — talk to them, and maybe you’ll be like, ‘I never thought of that — whatever it is — that way.’ I feel like that’s an important trait we all need more of, but definitely something we need to teach our children to love each other and love others, because that’s what God said — ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Not, ‘Love your neighbor if they think like you do, or feel like you do.’ ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

There’s so much more coming on Cry Pretty, along with some uptempo jams and a few stone-cold country numbers. The full album will be out on September 14. — Originally published 2018.

All Our Favorite People