When Carrie Underwood met with producer David Garcia to start work on her new album "Denim & Rhinestones," she had one goal – fun.
"(Fun) was my sole goal," Underwood said. "I'd been in a heavy place in a good way for a couple of years. But the world had been in a heavy place in a not-so-good way. We had no idea what was going to happen. I didn't know if I'd be able to tour with the album, but I was like, 'Let's write it as if we are. Let's write it as if we know we are. And let's have fun."
Available now, "Denim & Rhinestones" is home to her new single "Ghost Story and 11 additional previously unheard songs. She co-wrote 11 of the 12 songs on "Denim & Rhinestones." To celebrate its release, Underwood presented a global Amazon Music livestream concert from The Historic Bell Tower in downtown Nashville Thursday night. Friday morning, a blinged-out, fun-filled, pop-up exhibition opened in the same space that will operate throughout the weekend CMA Music Fest.
Dubbed The Denim & Rhinestones Experience, it includes interactive photo installations, wardrobe displays, and an interactive retail boutique celebrating the music of "Denim & Rhinestones." Fans who visit the space can have everything from denim jackets and t-shirts to insulated travel mugs professionally bedazzled.
"They can come in and take some really epic pictures," Underwood said. "We have these fun little vignettes set up. There's lots of denim and lots of rhinestones, and the different songs are kind of represented. Just immerse yourself and all the things' Denim & Rhinestones."
At the beginning of the process, Underwood didn't know the album would land in such a lighthearted space. She started with a blank piece of paper, and it was scary. However, the more she wrote, the more ideas presented themselves and she began to get anxious.
"'Velvet Heartbreak' was one of the first ones that we wrote that I was excited about," Underwood said. "I was like, 'Oh, there's something really cool about this.' I wasn't sure if that's like the direction I wanted the whole album to go, but I was like, 'This could be a cool puzzle piece.'"
"Wanted Woman" and "Garden" were written on the same day and also came early in the process.
When she co-wrote "Denim & Rhinestones" with Garcia, Josh Kear, and Hillary Lindsey, she was iffy on the song. But when she got the song's demo back, she loved it.
"I told my manager, 'You're probably going to think I'm crazy, but I love this,'" Underwood recalled. "She was like, 'I do, too.' It was like, I don't know where it's going to fit or that radio is going to play it, but it just feels so good. That's where we wanted to go with it -- not worry so much about the ramifications of what we were doing. We just wanted to make music that felt good."
Underwood describes the project as eclectic with vintage sparkle.
"We weren't trying to make this a throwback album," she said. "I think there's several decades and different genres – we cover a lot of ground. I think there's something for everybody, and it's happy."
Underwood recently announced her new 43-city U.S. arena tour, THE DENIM & RHINESTONES TOUR which spans Fall 2022 to Spring 2023. Jimmie Allen will serve as tour support.