If it seems vaguely insulting to call the smashingly successful Idol alum’s material formulaic, know at least that it is, three albums in, one of the most well-honed formulas in the business. On Play On, Underwood’s MO — equal parts good-riddance-to-bad-boys stompers (”Cowboy Casanova,” ”Undo It”) and fervent balladry (”Mama’s Song,” ”Change”) — consistently serves her well. The saucy stuff, which she embodies with appealing verve, tends to eclipse those ballads, too reliant on Hallmark-card sentimentality. Her vocal ability remains beyond reproach; a crack in the immaculate veneer, however, would be welcome too. B
For an extended review of Play On, go to music-mix.ew.com.
Download This: Listen to the song Cowboy Casanova at last.fm