Carrie Underwood – “Temporary Home”

Carrie Underwood scored platinum sales with her previous single “Cowboy Casanova” and then followed that up with a #1 debut for the album Play On.  Will and should this sweet story telling single find similar success outside of its guaranteed radio success?

This kind of song has been done to death, hasn’t it? I mean, three verses that each paint a somewhat contrived scene that conveniently ties into an often inspirational hook. Oh well, even overused musical tropes can still make for more than passable songs. 

In “Temporary Home,” three characters all take on some interpretation of the title phrase: a literal sense for the foster child bounced from home to home, a struggling young mother in a halfway house, and a spiritual sense for the man on his deathbed. What could’ve easily been a mountain of glurge instead becomes simple and effective. The verses are uncluttered and pleasantly devoid of triteness for the most part. Even though the song’s climatcic verse (wherein the old man knows he’s headed to Heaven) is obvious, this conclusion isn’t beaten over the listener’s head, making it still feel at least somewhat rewarding. 

Vocal and musical execution can always make or break a song, especially songs with motivational themes, which can promptly be ruined by a slick, bombastic production cribbed from nearly any CCM song. Carrie smartly uses the oft-neglected softer end of her range, and the production is just as restrained, not once succumbing to the Dann Huff-ish bombast that Mark Bright is so fond of. 

Carrie Underwood has proven all but invulnerable throughout her career, and for good reason: her single choices often find her at her best, playing a different range of emotions and sounds, yet still cohering into a distinct sound. “Temporary Home” may not pack quite the emotional punch of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” or “Just a Dream,” but at the same time, it doesn’t try to amplify its simple message to the point of brow-beating. Expect this song to have more than just a temporary home on radio and on listeners’ playlists.

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