This is not the same exact Carrie Underwood you know and love. I mean, sitting in her manager's Nashville office sporting a vintage concert T-shirt and rolled-up jeans, she's still the same sunny picture. (Sidebar: It's hard to believe that less than a year ago the seven-time Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling entertainer had more than 40 stitches in her face due to a freak accident.)
  You'll really notice the difference - a little more introspective, a bit more open, even more confident - when you listen to her latest album, Cry Pretty, which she says is "much more me" than the last five.
  And, oh, by the way, Carrie just announced on August 8 that she and hubby are expecting baby number two.

  For this one, Carrie took the reins as a co-producer for the first time: "I had time and space and creative license in a way I haven't before. I got to do the dirty work." While her personal life remains rock-solid (she and her husband of eight years, hockey player Mike Fisher, are the proud parents of Isaiah, 3), she admits that her past year was an emotional roller coaster. She mined those lessons for song material - and talks to us a little about from here.

Your new album is titled Cry Pretty,
so what moves you to tears?

  I get teary in church a lot because I'm moved by the message - but I never remember to bring tissues! [Laughs] Rarely do I cry out of frustration. I cry happy tears maybe more than I cry sad tears.

You've said recently that you feel stronger
than ever - why?

  A lot happened in 2017 during my "off year." I love it when people say, "You took a year off." I'm like, "You know, I had this shoot and this thing, and I was writing this and doing that." There was always so much to do, but it was also a very soul-searching year for me.

What prompted that soul-searching?

  There were some personal things that happened. And I had the accident and all of that to get through ... and just life. Life is full of ups and downs, and I might have had a few more downs than ups last year.

Did having a facial injury shake your confidence?

  Any time someone gets injured, it looks pretty bad in the beginning, and you're like, "What is this going to wind up like?" You just don't know.