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In the 13 years since Carrie Underwood won American Idol, she has become one of the biggest stars of country music and of music in almost any genre, selling out arenas across North America and around the world. Her voice continues to be one of the best in the industry.

The things that make her so popular are in good supply on her sixth album, Cry Pretty. The album opens with songs as first-person stories that tell of heartache, a country music staple. Cry Pretty continues in this vein for seven songs until it takes a turn from personal loss to societal ones with a pair of songs about gun violence (“The Bullet”) and alcoholism (“Spinning Bottles”).

But Underwood doesn't leave us there. She closes the album with songs of hope, both global (“Love Wins”) and personal (“End Up with You”), ending with perhaps the most personal song on the album, “Kingdom,” a celebration of married life.

Her songs are sung with conviction. As an outspoken Christian, when Underwood sings of hope, it is easy to hear her faith as part of the message. (Capitol Nashville)

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