Being known as one of the only American Idol alumnus who matters carries its own dubious honour, and Kelly Clarkson has found out the hard way.
Battles with record executives, stress and illness have been her price to pay for insta-fame. It’s not in vain, though, as there’s nothing so real as paying dues to bring on the credibility and depth that create the all-important vibe.
Clarkson’s fifth album, Stronger, shows off her powerhouse voice in all its hues and glory. She sounds forceful and alluring throughout, and this album is a vocal stunner.
But Stronger is also a big pop record that doesn’t supply the material that can equal Clarkson’s talent. The production is also big, but it’s anonymous. It’s above industry standard, although below in creating new sounds or original ideas.
This is a shame, as Clarkson has the power of Christina Aguilera, and has few peers who can match her.
Too much of the songwriting focuses on relationships, getting even, empowerment and moving on. The latter notion should be put into practice, instead of singing about some dude who split and clearly doesn’t give a s*&t.
Go tell it to your journal instead. There’s not a whole lot to dig into here.
This subject matter (or lack of) is the curse of the diva, and is the price to endure for listening to some superstar singers.
That’s not to say there isn’t some good rocking to be had: Einstein, Mr. Know It All and Hello have earthy appeal and strong hooks, and make a case for more of the same.
As for Clarkson’s rumoured country album, it makes a suggestive appearance in Don’t You Wanna Stay. This duet with Jason Aldean starts promisingly, and then predictably morphs into Nashville-lite dramatics… Is that it?
–– Dean Gordon-Smith is the longtime CD reviewer for The Morning Star.