It’s easy for Carrie Underwood’s fans to feel like stakeholders in her career — they’ve watched her compete for their votes on American Idol, then seen her parley her success into country stardom. Millions root for her to continue her Cinderella story while some of course wonder if her magic will evaporate. They'll have to keep wondering. Carnival Ride (2007) is a satisfying and occasionally adventuresome follow-up to Underwood's debut Some Hearts. This effort is more country-slanted than her first outing, seasoned with twanging banjos and stomping tempos as well as a dash of down-home R&B. Underwood bears down and summons up an earthy growl for “Flat On The Floor” and “Last Name” (a drunk-at-the-alter ditty reminiscent of Alan Jackson’s “I Don’t Even Know Your Name”). She disses the guys (“The More Boys I Meet”), hits the road (“Get Out Of This Town”) and falls heedlessly in love (“Twisted”) without losing her wholesome (yet sassy) air. Her torchy side smolders in “I Know You Won’t.” Most crucially, the album’s standout ballad — “So Small” — allows her full-bodied voice to soar and shine. Overall, Carnival Ride reaffirms the hopes of Carrie’s faithful while solidifying her status as a front-rank Nashville talent.