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Kelly Clarkson – ‘Piece by Piece’ review

Kelly Clarkson’s new album “Piece by Piece” is anything but disappointing. Released on March 3, Clarkson shows that you don’t need to have cookie-cutter love songs to have a successful pop album. As her seventh album, “Piece by Piece” not only showcases her strengths but also demonstrates that she is a force to be reckoned with.
The first single of the album, “Heartbeat Song,” is probably one of her poppiest songs ever released. It’s definitely the type of song that will get stuck in your head for a couple days and the one you blast in the car and shout the lyrics to the top of your lungs. It is a strong song in a sense that it can easily become one of your favorites, but technically speaking, it is just another typical pop song.
The second track, “Invincible,” was co-written by Sia (Chandelier) and Clarkson. This track is the next single of the album and the strongest song off the whole CD. It has everything you would ever want from a Clarkson hit: pin-sharp vocals, an epic chorus weaving in and out of verses and, of course, the well placed oh-oh-ohs. A good fit for Clarkson.
In my opinion, the song “Take You High” is quite frankly, the worst on the album. The song is not Clarkson at all from beginning to end. After the chorus is this weird EDM-esqe part that just doesn’t make sense for the album. If this song never made it to the album, I wouldn’t be upset about it.
The next two songs, “Someone” and the title track “Piece by Piece,” show off Clarkson’s passive aggressive putdowns. In “Someone,” she offers a classic non-apology apology, basically saying that she doesn’t want to have to say such awful things to an ex. The song is beautifully performed, and Clarkson sounds great. It’s just very forgettable. As for the next song, “Piece by Piece,” it is a whole other story. Clarkson sings a slow-building rage on how her father left her family at such a young age. Later in the song she expresses passion through the description of how her husband will never do the same to her family. It is a very strong piece, and it explains why the album was named after the song.
Back in February, Clarkson stated in an interview with BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show that she had a hard time getting any collaboration on the new album. She states that she asked tons of musicians, but they all turned her down. The only singer to follow through was John Legend, who is featured on the track “Run Run Run.” It is a great, soulful track, but after a couple listens, it turns into the song you always tend to skip when it comes on. Also, in this song, Clarkson doesn’t sound like herself, but instead like Adele. It didn’t fit well on the album lineup.
The track “I Had a Dream” is a very inspiring song, and Clarkson’s goal was to get everyone engaged in the world around him or her and to have a voice. The chorus is very catchy. You will definitely find yourself tapping your foot to the beat. But she does make some weird references of promiscuity in the lyrics that were very unexpected.
Another song co-written by Sia and Greg Kurstin, “Let Your Tears Fall,” builds on the empowerment vibe from the last song. While listening, you can sense a little bit of a hint of her old hit single “Stronger.” It is another song on the album that shows the strength of Clarkson’s vocal range and proves that Sia co-writing with Clarkson makes a perfect match.
“Tightrope” is another great ballad off the record, but like “Someone,” I found this song to be forgettable. But the next track, “War Paint,” expresses a common message in love songs, which is too peel off the mask and be who you really are. The song has a rigid dance beat that makes it an instant favorite for me.
In the beginning of the next song, “Dance With Me,” it has a U2-style sound, but quickly changes into another dance beat that immediately makes your head bob. However, when it gets to the chorus, it just gets too repetitive and chant-like.
As for my personal favorite, “Nostalgic,” it amounts to the perfect pop song. This track takes you back to the 1980s and this track’s throwback bounce could easily dance its way onto Taylor Swift’s “1989” album. I am constantly putting this song on repeat because of the appealing chorus and how it automatically puts you into a good mood. It is such a typical Clarkson sound that it could’ve fit well with any of her albums.
As for the final song off the record, “Good Goes the Bye,” it’s utterly gorgeous and somehow Clarkson is able to express sadness, bravery, wisdom and healing throughout the whole track. I believe this song would’ve been a great first single.
It is hard to believe that Clarkson won “American Idol” 13 years ago, but since then she has done nothing but prove that she earned that title. The best part of this album is it doesn’t sound like a mixture of old Clarkson; it illustrates a new mature one. It shows that she was experimenting with her sound, and I commend any artist who does that. It also displays confidence and the control of a seasoned pro, but I don’t expect anything less of Clarkson. Overall, “Piece by Piece” will surprise you, but in a good way. After a three-year hiatus from her last album release, if this represents the return of Clarkson, then we should all be glad to have her back.

 

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