An American Idol winner making it to a sophomore album is impressive in itself, but Carrie Underwood’s second release is independently strong. As the title would suggest, Underwood takes a much more playful position this time around. It is odd to hear her new songs devoted to a lighthearted and humorous tone, after songs on her debut—2005’s Some Hearts—dealt with alcoholism, isolation and revenge. While her voice is consistently on target, Carnival Ride lives up to its name with a series of ups and downs. If “So Small” and “Get Out Of Town” are the thrills of a roller coaster, then the overly silly “More Boys I Meet” (about the benefits of a faithful dog over men) and “Last Name” (which borrows too much from Alan Jackson’s “I Don’t Even Know Your Name”) represent waiting in line at the amusement park.