Carrie Underwood will release her highly-anticipated album, Denim & Rhinestones, on June 10th, 2022. She co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks on Denim & Rhinestones with many of her frequent collaborators such as David Garcia, Hillary Lindsey, Josh Miller, Ashley Gorley, Josh Kear, and Chris DeStefano, who have written many of her biggest hits. She also welcomes more recent co-writers on the album, including Michael Hardy and Lydia Vaughan, the latter of whom co-wrote “If I Didn’t Love You,” Carrie’s multi-week #1 smash hit duet with Jason Aldean.
Denim & Rhinestones is the latest project between Carrie and David Garcia, having co-produced her critically-acclaimed 2018 release, Cry Pretty, which marked the first time she produced her own album. Garcia and Carrie also co-produced her 2021 GRAMMY® Award-winning album of gospel hymns, My Savior.
Here is a Brown Bag/Open-Ended Interview with Carrie for your use.
CUT 1: Carrie Underwood (hi, how are you) :03: HI Carrie! How are you doing?
CU ANSWER: “HI! Good, how are you?”
CUT 2: Carrie Underwood (title of Denim & Rhinestones) OC: …for this album. :42
QUESTION: So, your new project is called Denim & Rhinestones. How did you come up with the title for your new project?
“I love the song ‘Denim & Rhinestones,’ first and foremost, but I thought there was just something so cool about the title of it that is very me, that I wanted to name my album Denim & Rhinestones. When you think of Denim & Rhinestones, you think of the staples in your closet, the things that are reliable, the things that are comfortable, that you always feel good in them. Then you think of rhinestones and it’s all the things that sparkle on top, and I feel like that kind of just sums up me. It sums up this album. It’s a little vintage. It’s a little shiny, and it just makes you feel good. So, I felt like that was the perfect title for this album.”
CUT 3: Carrie Underwood (past projects) OC: …about it. 1:36
QUESTION: Your last studio album was 2018’s Cry Pretty, but you also released a pair of passion projects – My Gift and My Savior – in between the two albums. How did those projects help shape or influence Denim & Rhinestones? What kind of growth did you have?
CU ANSWER: “My last full studio album was in 2018 with Cry Pretty. I was very much lucky to get to work on some passion projects in-between Cry Pretty and Denim & Rhinestones, and I think that kind of gave me a little bit of a break from trying to be creative in a big sense, in putting this massive project together. I already knew a lot of the standard Christmas songs that I wanted to do for My Gift and then the hymns I did for My Savior. It was more about choosing things, for the most part, that were already available. We wrote a little bit for the Christmas album, but it wasn’t that much of an undertaking. These were just kind of heart projects, and we didn’t have to focus too hard on starting from scratch and having this big undertaking of making an entire album from nothing. So, I feel it kind of gave me a little bit of a break from that and also filling my heart cup and my singing cup up. It was a really good space for me to be in when the world was pretty unsure, so I’m so thankful that I had those two projects to work on. But I feel like it really made me ready to get creative, and it seemed more like a joy to get to start something from scratch. So, I feel like it was a really kind of needed ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ kind of thing for making a new album. By the time we were ready, it was like we were raring to go, and I was really excited about it.”
CUT 4: Carrie Underwood (making a new album during the pandemic) OC: …right now. 1:37
QUESTION: Even though you released two passion projects during the pandemic, your new record Denim & Rhinestones was written and recorded during the height of the global pandemic when artists weren’t able to tour, meet with fans, get that instant feedback from their audiences. How much did that play in the making of this record? Fun is reflected in the music, the lyrics, etc. …and I feel like people are so ready to celebrate and rejoice.
“Making an album in the middle of the past couple years, it definitely had its challenges, like I was writing on ZOOM a couple of times with a few different writers. It was a little trickier to figure out little things like that, scheduling and logistics and everybody was dealing with something all the time, BUT the fact that I was in one place a bit longer than usual. I feel like we definitely took advantage of that, and I was able to really focus in on making this album with fewer distractions than normal. I wasn’t leaving town constantly to go do things, and it was just nice to be able to have large chunks of time where I really got to focus on this album. I do feel like after the past couple of years, people are ready to get out. I mean we see it in the festivals and the things like that I have been doing, the one off shows here and there and our Vegas residency, people are ready to reenter the world and get together and celebrate things, and music brings people together like nothing else. So, I certainly feel like that. I’m ready to get out there and go on tour and stuff like that with this album and I feel like people are really ready for it too. And it definitely made me just want to make music that is, for the most part, just positive and happy and fun, because I feel like that’s kind of a gap that we all have in our lives right now.”
CUT 5: Carrie Underwood (kept radio & live show in mind) OC: … Denim & Rhinestones. :53
QUESTION: Were you also looking ahead at playing songs live when making the album? How does that factor in when writing and producing?
CU ANSWER: “It’s important to have all of the things in mind when making an album of where you’re going to be playing this album, what you’re going to do with it, what your hopes are. So, we definitely tried to think of how these songs were going to sound and feel on the radio, playing them on TV shows or whatever, but also of course factoring in the live aspect of it. We definitely had kind of this overarching tone that we wanted to make sure everything was going to sound really good in an arena. So, yeah, it’s one of those things that you always kind of have in the back of your head. You don’t want to make an album of songs that you really love but kind of fall flat when you get in front of people. So, I feel like I’ve learned that over the years, for sure, and it was definitely in our minds when we were making Denim & Rhinestones.”
CUT 6: Carrie Underwood (hopes for fans) OC: …time with it. 1:00
QUESTION: What do you hope fans get from listening to Denim & Rhinestones? What will they learn? What do you want them to feel?
“I hope when fans listen to the album, Denim & Rhinestones, that they just feel happy. When we set out to make this entire project, I walked in the writing room with my co-producer David (Garcia), and he’s like, ‘Well, what are we doing? What do you want to do?’ And I said, I just want to have fun. I feel like over the past couple of years, everybody’s been a little cooped up and just need some fun in their lives. You know, thinking about taking all of these songs on the road, I just wanted to think about as we were writing and as I was choosing songs, which ones would be great live. I love this album so much. It makes me happy. I hope they learn a little bit more about my musical influences and things that I like, because I feel like a lot of those just worked their way into this album. But, most of all, I just want them to feel happy, I want them to dance, I want them to sing and just have a good time with it.”
CUT 7: Carrie Underwood (writing for D&R) OC: …that one. :38
QUESTION: You wrote 11 of the 12 songs on your new album – where did you find the time to write with EVERYTHING else you’ve had going on?
“Oh, we always find time to write. You know, sometimes it’s in bigger chunks where I’m writing several days a week. I’m not the kind of person that can go in five days a week and write anyway, so it’s nice a little bit to get to break it up and do like three days a week, maybe four days a week if somebody’s in town or something that I just really have to write with. It kind of just depends on what else is going on, but we always make time for it obviously. I was lucky enough to write 11 of the 12. I guess I could’ve kicked out the 12th, but it was ‘Ghost Story,’ and I really like that song, so I really don’t care too much that I didn’t write that one.”
CUT 8: Carrie Underwood (Ghost Story) 1 OC: …writing one day. :56
QUESTION: The first single from the new album is “Ghost Story,” and it’s the only one you didn’t write for Denim & Rhinestones. What drew you to the song?
“’Ghost Story’ was written for me by David Garcia, Hilary Lindsey and Josh Kear, and I feel like they just nailed it when they got together to write. I’ve worked with all those incredibly talented writers a couple of which, I’ve worked with since pretty much the very beginning. I feel like they just know me so well. The song is hauntingly beautiful, has a really wide range and amazing melody and just tells this really cool, cinematic story of how this guy is never going to be able to let go of the girl he let go of because she’s just always going to be haunting him. He’s going to see her everywhere. He’s gonna want her back but she’s moved on – sorry man. (laughs) I loved this song, I loved recording it. It’s challenging vocally, but I like that. I feel like it’s just a really awesome song and I’m glad they got together to think of me while they were writing one day.”
CUT 9: Carrie Underwood (Reflection to tour) OC: …gonna be good. :53
QUESTION: How has your Las Vegas residency Reflection influenced the production, set list, and more for your new tour, which will kick off October 15th?
“I think everything that I do I learn from along the way and get to add certain things to my, you know, my bank. You learn what works in different areas and what doesn’t work in other areas. And I feel like our Las Vegas residency reflection has definitely taught me a lot. I feel like it helped a lot in the confidence department, in my confidence department, because we got to put together just this incredible show. You know it wasn’t necessarily just a concert, it was a show and I love that. I feel like there’s so many elements of that that I’m gonna take with me as we plan and ultimately take the Denim and Rhinestones tour out on the road. So, I’m excited to see what we do with everything that we’ve learned, and I think it only makes me a better performer and artist. So, it’s gonna be good.”
CUT 10: Carrie Underwood (thanks)
INTERVIEWER: Thank you so much for joining us to talk about your new project, Denim & Rhinestones, and your upcoming tour. It was a pleasure talking to you.
CU RESPONSE: “Awwww, Thank you so much. Thanks for having me and for chatting. I’m in love with this project, and definitely hope that people just feel, just feel something.”