After spending some well-deserved time off with her first-born son, Carrie Underwood is back in the spotlight with her new single, “Smoke Break”. No one has ever denied that Carrie has one of the best, if not the best voice in country music history. She can sing anything and make it sound great. Throw in a cheerful disposition, stunning good looks, and a knack for crafting interesting songs and you have a bona-fide superstar. Carrie has it all. Lately she has been really bringing it hard with her song material, and “Smoke Break” is no exception. Carrie once again proves why she is the reigning queen of country music.
“Smoke Break” is the musical version of someone who has just had enough and needs to take a breather. She isn’t whining. She doesn’t resent her life. She just needs a smoke break. Some time to dust off and relax before saddling back up. It isn’t the deepest story Carrie has ever told, nor the most hard-hitting song on radio, but that’s ok. You don’t need to change the world with every song. Sometimes just wanting to relax can be the basis for a song. Even though the premise seems thin, Carrie still drives home the point. That is a testament to her strong delivery and pointed lyrics. There is some debate on whether the characters in the song are actually smoking or drinking, or if it is a metaphor for just relaxing. The fact that this is questioned is why the song is well written. Are you a drinker? Interpret it as a drinking song. Do you pass on the sauce? It’s just a metaphor implying you need to equivalent of a smoke or drink break. That is quality songwriting. See, mainstream country fans? A song can be lighthearted and relaxing, yet not have lyrics for dummies.
This song is also a perfect fit for country radio. It has some hand claps and a driving rhythm that makes it right at home in mainstream country, but some very twangy guitars that give it a country feel. This isn’t Carrie’s most traditional song, but it still fits in with pop-country music. There is such a thing as good pop-country and this is a shining example. No complaints here. Of course, Carrie herself sounds fantastic. Her voice is simply flawless. She can sing soft with compassion and loud with power and seamlessly flow between the two. Her voice is truly a gift. I don’t mean to dote over and over, but it really can’t be said enough.
Overall, “Smoke Break” isn’t the best song Carrie ever recorded, or the best song of the year. That being said, it is a great song. It is exactly what country music needs right now. Let’s face it, stone cold country just isn’t getting radio play, but a song like this has the potential to be a big hit and still keep our genre rooted in something of substance. I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of what Carrie has to offer on Storyteller.